Push to expand mental health services for NYPD officers following recent deaths by suicide

NEW YORK (WABC) -- There is a push to expand mental health services for police officers after an alarming rise in deaths by suicide within the ranks of the NYPD.

New York City council members introduced legislation Wednesday requiring the police department to contract a specific number of licensed clinicians to provide mental health support and awareness to all New York City police officers.

The bill would also include annual first responder wellness sessions available to all members.

The sessions would provide information to officers on mental health conditions and symptoms, available resources provided by the department and by third parties, peer-based organizations and offer personal consultations.

"Too often, the members of the NYPD endure the enormous pressures of their work without being able to access help when they themselves are suffering," said City Council Health Committee Chair Mark Levine. "The heartbreaking number of suicides this year by active-duty and retired NYPD personnel should shock us into action. We need to ensure that every member of the department has access to mental health professionals to support them when they are struggling. We can only address this crisis by reducing barriers--and removing the stigma--to mental health services for the people who are putting their lives on the line for us every day."

So far this year nine NYPD officers have died by suicide, seven since June.

The bill's sponsors say they want to eradicate the stigma that officers cannot come forward to get the professional help they need.

If you are a member of the NYPD in crisis or know someone who is, you can text "Blue" to 741741 for help.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones, and best practices for professionals. The number to call is 1-800-273-8255.

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