NYPD suicides highlight need for mental health assistance for officers

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Nine NYPD officers have taken their own lives this year – iincluding just two within the last week.

Police departments in New Jersey say that the deaths highlight the need for more mental health assistance for police officers on the job.

North Brunswick Police Capt. Brian Hoiberg says that his department is making sure officers discuss the topic of suicide and ways to prevention. He says that the job can be very stressful.

"You could be going from giving a lollipop to a child on a call, to a half-hour later doing CPR on a child,” he says.

Hoiberg has been with the North Brunswick department for 24 years. He says that he has seen a lot on the job. Some good, some bad, including losing fellow officers to suicide.

RELATED: Officials: Another NYPD officer commits suicide; 2nd in a week, 9th this year 

“People that you have those bonds with from being in this job together and then knowing that the next day they're not they're not here, it takes a toll,” Hoiberg says.

News 12 New Jersey asked the captain what his department does to help officers, especially after a tough call.

“We bring the Cop-to-Cop program through the state… they speak to the officers that were involved in the incident one on one and they get to just express their feelings and how they may be feeling about that incident so it's not just bottled up inside,” he says.

Hoiberg says that talking about these types of feelings was not something that was done when he was a rookie officer.

"It was a sign of weakness. It was ‘I’m supposed to be tougher than that,’” he says.

Hoiberg says that he is encouraged to hear that the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office will be training police officers this fall on mental health and suicide prevention.

"The attorney general realizes that this is an issue in law enforcement. The recent history with the NYPD is also a stark reality to people that it does happen and it is something that goes on and it is something that needs to be dealt with,” he says.

The Resiliency Program training will be held in October. North Brunswick police say they will be sending officers to it who can then come back and help their fellow officers.

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