Home News NYPD’s mental health emergency: What’s behind the suicide numbers

NYPD’s mental health emergency: What’s behind the suicide numbers



The NYPD is facing a mental health emergency after its ninth officer this year died by suicide.

For ex-cop and suicide survivor Chris Prochut, the crisis highlights a chronic issue in the force.

“New York City cops — they’ll hold it together right to the edge, until they break,” says Prochut, 46, who worked as a cop in Illinois and is now a national law enforcement suicide prevention trainer.

“When I saw that the ninth officer had died, I thought, ‘How much more do we have to do?’ ”

For those close to the crisis like Prochut, the recent spate of suicides is devastating, but not shocking. Whereas 13 out of every 100,000 people will die by suicide in the general population, that number climbs to 17 in 100,000 for police officers, according to a 2018 report by the Ruderman Family Foundation, a disability advocacy nonprofit. Furthermore, the report found, officers are more likely to kill themselves than to be killed on the job — a result, experts believe, of high stress and traumatic encounters in their line of work.

“[Cops] are seeing mass murders, dead children, human misery, no matter which way they turn. All these things hit the psyche pretty hard day after day,” says former New York State Police Trooper John Violanti, a professor at University at Buffalo School of Public Health and Health Professions.

The numbers are worse than usual this year, though: Typically, four or five NYPD officers take their own lives every year. Nine suicides by August is unusual — and some believe that the problem is even worse than we know.

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