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Mental Health & Substance Use Screening

Overview & Statistics

POPPA has responded to thousands of police officers who have reached out for help.  The majority of calls to POPPA were by officers who just needed to talk to someone or wanted to meet to discuss issues in more depth.  Approximately 45% of officers were referred to clinicians for ongoing confidential professional help.  Of the officers who received POPPA services, the vast majority returned to full-duty with no career disruption, or chose to retire.

During the 10-year period (1986-1995) before the existence of POPPA, there were an average of 7 active-duty officer suicides per year.  The 28 police suicides from 1993-1995 contributed to the urgent need for an organization of police peers, separate from the Department, but able to work confidentially and with the cooperation of the NYPD.

In the 26 years (1996-2021) since the creation of POPPA, the number of NYPD suicides dropped from an average of 7 suicides annually to fewer than 5 per year, with a low of 2 to a high of 10 in 2019.  In addition to this reduction, more than 150 police officers who have reported to POPPA that they did not complete suicide as a direct result of calling the POPPA 24/7 Helpline and receiving services.  The reduction in police suicide may be attributed to a variety of factors, including changes within the NYPD making officers more comfortable with seeking services, changes in attitudes reducing the stigma of needing and getting help, and the greater availability of resources, we believe that POPPA has played a significant role in the reduction of suicide among NYPD officers.

Nationwide, the number of suicides is greater than the number of line-of-duty deaths.  This is true among NYC police officers if we exclude the 23 deaths on 9/11, an ever-increasing number of 9/11-related deaths, and police deaths attributed to COVID-19 in 2020 and 2021.  Suicide is consistently the number 1 killer of police nationwide annually.

Among NYPD officers, the suicide rate is lower than that of the National Police Suicide rate (13.8 vs 17.0 per 100,000).  This may reflect a combination of the resiliency of NYC police officers and the availability of resources.  POPPA has been a leader in developing initiatives to combat officer suicide.  POPPA’s Suicide Awareness for Emergency Responders (S.A.F.E.R.) Program gives police officers the tools to identify specific warning signs of suicidal thinking and strategies to respond to an officer in crisis.