Officials call for change due to rise in police officer suicides


ALBANY, N.Y. (WTEN NEWS10) — The stigma of seeking help is the reason why John Cooney says police officers take their lives.

The retired Troy police captain feeds his chickens as a form of therapy to deal with his own traumas from working as an officer.

“Our body armor may protect our organs, but it doesn’t protect our hearts and minds,” Cooney said.

Suicide among police officers is on the rise. Around 120 officers have killed themselves this year. In 2018, the total number was around 160.

“These numbers are drastically under-reported. Because it’s something that we don’t want to confront,” said President Patrick Phelan of the New York State Chief of Police Association.

The association is launching a campaign to get officers mental health resources in departments across the state.

Phelan said nothing can prepare an officer for the trauma.

“I’m taking ownership of this. We haven’t done the things that we need to do to help these officers,” Phelan said.

Phelan said it’s not one crime scene or death, but a build up that usually collapses around the 13th year on the force.

The National Suicide Prevention Hotline is open 24/7 for those in crisis. That number is 1-800-273-8255.

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