NYPD creates new approach to prevent officer suicides

Officials say the new approach will make it easier for officers to seek help.

The New York City Police Department has announced a new approach to prevent suicides by officers, one day after a veteran detective was found dead after he apparently hanged himself.

NYPD Chief of Department Terry Monahan announced Tuesday that the department has hired a new psychologist to work with troubled officers.

The new hire will oversee a team of psychologists in every borough who officers can turn to in a time of need, Monahan said. She will be a familiar face and “someone they can speak to on a regular basis and when something is happening in their lives,” Monahan said.

“This is going to be different than anything we’ve ever done,” Monahan told reporters. “Her responsibility is unlike any psychologist we have ever hired.”

The new approach will make it easier for officers to seek help without any stigmas or repercussions, Monahan said.

Previously, officers sent to see a departmental psychologist may have worried about suffering a mark on their career or having their guns stripped from them. While removing an officer’s service weapon will remain an option, the new psychologist’s first responsibility will be to offer treatment, Monahan said.

“Any decision that she would be involved in would be based on what’s best for the cop,” Monahan said. “Her goal is not to protect the agency. It’s to protect the cop.”

In 2018, 1,231 NYPD officers were referred for mental health assistance, and 109 were placed on restricted duty and lost their firearms, New York ABC station WABC reported.

The NYPD has experienced a string of suicides in recent months. Ten officers killed themselves in 2019, and 53-year-old Det. Paul Federico, who was found dead in his mother’s home in Queens on Monday, is the first to die by suicide this year.

The rash of suicides had already prompted the training of more than 200 officers to offer support to their peers. The NYPD also partnered with New York Presbyterian Hospital in October to connect officers with clinicians. So far, 92 officers have sought help, Monahan said.

“If even one of them was saved by that, it’s an outright success,” Monahan said.

The new psychologist will join the department on March 1. She was not identified since she has not yet started.

If you are in crisis, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741-741.

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