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NYPD Raises Awareness for Support and Services Available for those in Crisis and Having Suicidal Thoughts

December 14, 2018

The New York City Police Department, with support from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and the American Association of Suicidology, has distributed a message to its members reminding them that if they are experiencing a personal crisis or having thoughts of suicide, help is readily available. The message was sent directly from Police Commissioner James P. O'Neill to the email addresses and smartphones of more than 55,000 members of the NYPD, and included a video to raise awareness about the many accessible internal and external services available. The message and video were also prominently posted on the NYPD's intranet portal.

In addition to advising uniformed and civilian NYPD staff that they are never alone because help is attainable, Commissioner O'Neill's message asks members to routinely check in with their colleagues. It stresses that when certain warning signs are apparent, those indicators should be taken seriously, and options for help should be offered. Recent research by the Ruderman Foundation finds that in 2017, a higher number of law enforcement officers died by suicide than those killed in the line of duty.

"This is a tough job — one that can be stressful or dangerous, and is often misunderstood. And your personal life can be even tougher," Police Commissioner James P. O'Neill said. "Whatever you might be going through, remember: You are never alone. The first step toward any solution is talking to someone. Seeking out help is never a sign of weakness — it is actually a sign of great strength. Before you can take care of anyone else, you must first take care of yourself."

"Law enforcement personnel serve a critically important role in our communities. Their mental health and wellbeing can be impacted by their work and the tremendous exposure on the job to violence and other complex problems. These occupational exposures alongside a culture that avoids seeking mental health services can increase suicide risk," said Dr. Christine Moutier, the Chief Medical Officer at the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. "AFSP is proud to be involved with and support the NYPD in the many ways they are working to prevent suicide among law enforcement."

"The American Association of Suicidology is incredibly proud to support the NYPD in exemplifying supportive leadership. By speaking openly about suicide prevention resources, the NYPD is reducing the prejudice and discrimination surrounding suicide thoughts and mental health issues from the top down," said Colleen Creighton, Executive Director of the American Association of Suicidology. "Likewise, by encouraging those in its department to support one another and reach out when needed, they are actively saving more lives."

The public is also reminded that if anyone is in crisis or having suicidal thoughts, help is available to all. Options include:

  • In New York City, NYC Well provides assistance and services. Text WELL to 65173 or call 1-888-NYC-WELL. See more at www.nyc.gov/nycwell.
  • Additional options, for those inside and outside New York City, include calling the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or texting TALK to the Crisis Text Line at 741741.
  • Law enforcement officers in the United States can also text BLUE to 741741.
  • Remember, always call 911 for emergencies.

Learn about the risk factors and warning signs associated with suicide from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

Learn more about the NYPD's suicide prevention and mental health awareness outreach for the public, and for law enforcement nationwide.

Increase your knowledge and understanding of mental illnesses and the signs of suicide to help reduce the stigma and learn to how you can help others by getting trained in mental health first aid.