Officials call for mental health, meditation training for NYPD after string of suicides

NEW YORK — Medical experts, union officials and the Brooklyn borough president on Friday called on city and police leaders to add meditation and mindfulness training for law enforcement officers, as the NYPD deals with a rash of officer suicides and what many have called a “mental health crisis.”

Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams calls for mental health training for NYPD officers, July 12, 2019.

Earlier this week, police Commissioner James O’Neill announced that the NYPD would offer peer counseling in all city precincts, related to the department’s new Health and Wellness Task Force.

This year, six NYPD officers have killed themselves, including four officers in just three weeks.

“The healing process started many years ago, and that process continues,” said Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, a former member of the NYPD, who said he now meditates daily.

He called on leaders to implement meditation training for officers, giving them a tool to better cope with trauma and take care of themselves and their families.

“Allow one of those tools to be a tool that they can take with them for the rest of their lives,” Adams said.

“Not only monks meditate, borough presidents meditate, teachers meditate, doctors and lawyers meditate. Let’s give our officers these tools.”

He also talked about the many other officers that don’t die by suicide, but still suffer in the background and may contemplate suicide.

“Police officers are reluctant — because of history — of revealing whatever trauma they are experiencing,” he said.

Now, the NYPD offers multiple resources for the emotional and physical toll the job takes on those in the force.

On their website, the NYPD lists numbers for their Employee Assistance Unit, Chaplain’s Unit, peer assistance program, and other resources.

If you or someone you know is considering suicide, contact the U.S. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255). It’s a free, 24/7 service that offers support, information, and local resources. You can also click here for additional hotlines within the tri-state and the nation.

Depression and suicidal thoughts are often exhibited in many ways. Warning signs for suicide can include, but are not limited to, talking about wanting to die; conveying feelings of hopelessness, worthlessness or being a burden; and displaying extreme moods.

If someone you know exhibits warning signs of suicide, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention advises that you do not leave the person alone, call a prevention hotline, and take the person to an emergency room or seek help from a medical or mental health professional.

For more information on suicide prevention, including additional resources and warning signs, you can visit the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s website.

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