NYPD raising awareness of officer suicides with '22 Pushup Challenge'

LOWER MANHATTAN, Manhattan (WABC) -- NYPD officers are doing the '22 Pushup Challenge' to raise awareness of an ugly truth - more police officers die from suicide than die in the line of duty.

There have been nine NYPD officer suicides this year. The number 22 stands for statistics that show 22 veterans die by suicide each day.

Related: Up Close: Putting a spotlight on the crisis of suicide

In the NYPD there is now a greater concern and heightened awareness of suicide among police ranks after the nine suicides in 2019 alone.

"That's a crisis, and it's time we talk about this - not in the shadows, not in closed rooms, but out in the public. There is no shame in asking for help," said Chief of Counterterrorism James Waters.

Police officials point out that due to the nature of their work, officers are highly susceptible to stress, trauma, and fatigue.

A new effort in the NYPD is recommending mandatory mental health checks for every member of the department, or certain at-risk officers.

While police officials say that officers have both internal and external support services available, these are often underutilized by officers as a result of the stigma surrounding mental health issues.

In addition to the mandatory mental health checks, other recommendations include establishing a mental health and wellness policy, hiring additional mental health professionals and providing transitional training for officers approaching retirement.

These efforts are all in hopes of building a mentally and physically stronger police department.

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