“The biggest challenge is for officers to know it’s OK to need help yourself,” Mayor Bill de Blasio says.
A week after an off-duty sergeant became the 10th officer to die by suicide this year, New York City police are joining a national movement to help officers get confidential help from outside the police department.
New York’s rate of officer deaths by suicide this year is double the rate of recent years, a reality that Police Commissioner James O’Neill calls a “crisis.”
It’s why O’Neill joined Mayor Bill de Blasio on Wednesday to announce that the police department is working with New York-Presbyterian Hospital to offer confidential counseling and other mental health services outside the department, all of it free, including prescription medications.
The program, called Finest Care, will connect officers with psychologists and psychiatrists from New York-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center, New York-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center and New York-Presbyterian’s Westchester Division, the city said.
Citing research that almost 1 in 4 police officers has thoughts of suicide at some point in their lives, the NYPD inspector general and city Department of Investigation echoed O’Neill in a 51-page report last month, declaring that “the NYPD is facing a crisis.”
The National Institute of Justice, an agency of the Justice Department, reported in April that police work is among the most stressful careers a person can pursue. But cops often refuse to seek help because of the “tough guy” culture of police departments, which they believe means acknowledging that they need assistance “could damage their careers,” it said.
O’Neill and de Blasio acknowledged the barriers that police culture presents.
“Our officers are supposed to be strong — that’s what they’ve been told,” de Blasio said in an interview. “And a lot of times, the biggest challenge is for officers to know it’s OK to need help yourself. You’re always giving help to other people — you sometimes need to help yourself.”
O’Neill said the “stigma” is one reason the new program is anonymous. He stressed that New York-Presbyterian would maintain its records, not the police department.
“We’ll just know the number of people that go through the program that are availing themselves of help,” he said.
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Several other metropolitan police departments already offer similar programs.
Dallas police partner with several academic and medical institutions to provide mental health services, including the Center for BrainHealth at the University of Texas at Dallas.
In San Antonio, the “Cop and Doc” initiative allows officers to reach out to the University of Texas Health Science Center and the Veterans Administration.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg County police in North Carolina also can go outside for help, with financial assistance from the police department.
O’Neill said that while the New York initiative has been in the works for some time, he’s sorry that the department hasn’t offered such outside help until now.
“Ten officers killed themselves. How can I not regret that?” he said. “I was a cop for a long time, so I know what they face each and every day.”
Referring to the rise in deaths by suicide, de Blasio said: “What’s so painful about the human experience is literally people talk themselves into leaving this Earth rather than seeking help. And we’ve got to break through that.”
If you or someone you know is in crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255, text HOME to 741741 or visit SpeakingOfSuicide.com/resources for additional resources.
By Kate Snow
9-year-old genius to graduate university
(CNN) – A child prodigy from Belgium is on course to gain a bachelor’s degree at the tender age of 9.
Laurent Simons is studying electrical engineering at the Eindhoven University of Technology (TUE) — a tough course even for students of an average graduate age.
Described by staff as “simply extraordinary,” Laurent is on course to finish his degree in December.
He then plans to embark on a PhD program in electrical engineering while also studying for a medicine degree, his father told CNN.
His parents, Lydia and Alexander Simons, said they thought Laurent’s grandparents were exaggerating when they said he had a gift, but his teachers soon concurred.
“They noticed something very special about Laurent,” said Lydia.
Laurent was given test after test as teachers tried to work out the extent of his talents. “They told us he is like a sponge,” said Alexander.
While Laurent comes from a family of doctors, his parents have so far not received any explanation as to why their child prodigy is capable of learning so quickly.
But Lydia has her own theory.
“I ate a lot of fish during the pregnancy,” she joked.
The TUE has allowed Laurent to complete his course faster than other students.
“That is not unusual,” said Sjoerd Hulshof, education director of the TUE bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering, in a statement.
“Special students that have good reasons for doing so can arrange an adjusted schedule. In much the same way we help students who participate in top sport.”
Hulshof said Laurent is “simply extraordinary” and praised the youngster.
“Laurent is the fastest student we have ever had here,” he said. “Not only is he hyper intelligent but also a very sympathetic boy.”
Laurent told CNN his favorite subject is electrical engineering and he’s also “going to study a bit of medicine.”
His progress has not gone unnoticed and he is already being sought out by prestigious universities around the world, although Laurent’s family wouldn’t be drawn on naming which of them he is considering for his PhD.
“The absorption of information is no problem for Laurent,” said his father.
“I think the focus will be on research and applying the knowledge to discover new things.”
While Laurent is evidently able to learn faster than most, his parents are being careful to let him enjoy himself too.
“We don’t want him to get too serious. He does whatever he likes,” said Alexander. “We need to find a balance between being a child and his talents.”
Laurent said he enjoys playing with his dog Sammy and playing on his phone, like many young people.
However, unlike most 9-year-olds, he has already worked out what he wants to do with his life: develop artificial organs.
In the meantime, Laurent has to finish his bachelor’s degree and choose which academic institution will play host to the next stage in his remarkable journey.
Before that, he plans on taking a vacation to Japan for an undoubtedly well-deserved break.
New award to honor arts and activism named after Lena Horne
Gang members slam BMW into rival and his 8-year-old son in Harlem
Two gangbangers aimed their BMW like a missile at a father and his 8-year-old son on a Harlem sidewalk in a horrifying incident captured by video distributed by police Thursday.
The BMW — driven by a man police believe is a member of the Gorilla Stone Bloods Gang — was zeroed in on the father, a rival gang member, said cops.
Around 3:45 p.m. Nov. 6, the boy and his father were walking on W. 112th St. by Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd. when the BMW jumped the sidewalk and slammed into them both, said cops.
🚨WANTED for ASSAULT: on 11/6 at approx 3:43 PM in front of 128 West 112th St in Manhattan, a 32 yr old male was walking with his 8 yr old son when a white BMW jumped the curb & hit the father & son. The driver then got out and slashed the father. Call @NYPDTips with any info. pic.twitter.com/cwd79rcM4c
— NYPD NEWS (@NYPDnews) November 15, 2019
Father and son were both knocked through a gate.
The BMW driver then backed up — and its driver and passenger, also believed to be a gang member, jumped out of the car and ran toward the father and the son.
One of the attackers slashed the father, identified by sources as 32-year-old Brian McIntosh, who’s served prison time for robbery and bail jumping.
McIntosh and his son went to Harlem Hospital. Miraculously, the boy escaped serious harm.
McIntosh was so adamant about refusing to help police catch his attackers that the young boy’s mother had to file a police report alleging he was the victim of a crime, police sources said.
Cops released video of the attack, and ask anyone with information about the suspects to call Crime Stoppers at (800) 577-TIPS.
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