In the wake of the ninth suicide of an NYPD police officer on Wednesday, Commissioner James O’Neill outlined on 1010 Wins three new measures that will be taken to address mental health within the department, which has 36,000 officers and 19,000 civilian employees.
In days, NYPD officers can expect an Employees Assistance App on their smartphones that will provide mental health resources, according to O’Neill.
“I urge every member that as soon as it appears on your phone take a look at it,” said O’Neill during the interview.
The NYPD will also partner with an independent mental health medical facility in the city that will be 24/7 and will also be available by phone or Facetime, according to the top cop.
“It’s anonymous and it is a road to getting healthy and well,” said O’Neill.
The NYPD will also expand the force’s health insurance mental health coverage, according to O’Neill.
On July 14, a 56-year-old Laurelton man who was a 25-year veteran of the NYPD’s Emergency Service Unit shot himself less than 10 hours after another NYPD officer committed suicide in the Bronx on July 13.
In 2014, the NYPD has been actively trying to combat suicide amongst its men and women in blue by initiating an “Are you OK?” campaign, which has a Twitter account handle: @TalktoMe.
The campaign promotes external options for support such as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and the Crisis Text Line, as well as a handout card that provides officer suicide-warning signs with tips on engaging a fellow officer.
The NYPD also provides a Chaplain Unit to help its officers and supports the Police Officers Providing Peer Assistance program, which is not a part of the NYPD, but the department endorses the initiative.
It consists of active and retired NYPD members volunteering their advice to those that need help.
“Their helpline is 1-888-COPS-COP,” tweeted Councilman Donovan Richards (D-Laurelton) about the POPPA program after the death of his friend’s spouse in his district. “I knew this officer’s wife. This hits close to home. His beautiful children are struggling tonight. Not an easy night.”
Similar to O’Neill, Richards said, “that we must shed the stigma attached to mental health services.”
Earlier this week, NYPD Chief of Department Terrence Monahan stated during an interview with WNYC that the average rate of suicides within the department annually was four or five.