Nassau Officials Introduce Mental Health Resources After 9th NYPD Suicide

Sophia Hall
August 20, 2019 - 2:27 pm
Nassau Mental Health

Sophia Hall/WCBS 880

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MINEOLA, N.Y. (WCBS 880) — Nassau County lawmakers are looking to ensure police officers get the mental health assistance they need following a shocking surge in suicides at the NYPD.

Last week, a veteran NYPD officer died by suicide at his home in Queens. He was the the second officer in just one week to kill himself, the seventh since June and the ninth in 2019.

Eileen Echeverria, the sister of that officer, says she tried to prevent the tragedy and warned the NYPD about his mental health issues, but nothing was done.

Now, Nassau County lawmakers are putting forth a plan that would make sure any officer can receive mental health counseling.

“The legislation that we are introducing today will create an office of mental health awareness within the Nassau County Police Department,” said Legislator Richard Nicolello.

The program has the backing of the Nassau County Correction Officer Union, whose president applauded the initiative to help officers.

“A good friend of mine, a classmate that I started with, with 28 years on the job committed suicide. Thinking he's going to retire soon – he inexplicably and without leaving any note, leaving a family behind,” said Correction Officer Union president Brian Sullivan.

“In order to protect the communities we serve, our brave law enforcement officers must receive the tools and resources needed to protect their own health and safety,” Nassau County Executive Laura Curran said. “This includes proper mental health support.”

“Stress is a byproduct of the law enforcement profession, and we want to make clear to our officers that it’s okay to ask for help. My Administration is committed to ensuring that our Police Department has all the resources necessary for mental health wellness,” she added.

The legislation would also make mental health counseling available through a smart phone app, according to Nassau County PBA President James McDermott.

“That's the best because when he's the people get to that point, that lowest point that they're at, if they could just push a button, they can get help,” he explained.

The following resources are available for officers in need of help:

  • Employee Assistance Unit: 646-610-6730
  • Chaplains Unit: 212-473-2363
  • POPPA (independent from the NYPD): 888-267-7267
  • NYC WELL: Text, call, & chat www.nyc.gov/nycwell
  • Lifeline: 800-273-TALK (8255)
  • Crisis Text Line: Law enforcement officers can text BLUE to 741741 (non-law enforcement can text TALK to 741741)
  • Call 911 for emergencies
  • The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-TALK (8255)