Law Enforcement Suicide Prevention Symposium

April 2, 2019

The New York City Police Department (NYPD) and the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF) today held an international Law Enforcement Suicide Prevention Symposium at Police Headquarters. The event included a welcome address by Police Commissioner James P. O'Neill and the symposium was facilitated by PERF Executive Director, Chuck Wexler.

This event brought together more than 300 researchers, subject matter experts, and law enforcement personnel from across the world to address the topic of suicide in law enforcement. Recent research has demonstrated that more law enforcement officers in the United States have died by suicide compared to being killed in the line of duty.

"As law enforcement officers, we swore an oath to take care of others. But we can't forget to take care of ourselves, too," said Police Commissioner James P. O'Neill. "Today's symposium is part of our ongoing effort to listen to our officers, eliminate the stigma of mental health issues, and save lives. By bringing together cops, researchers, and academic experts in the field of suicide prevention, we will work together to find meaningful solutions to this worldwide crisis."

"More police officers die from suicide than are killed in the line of duty. Yet, we don't have great data on how many officers take their lives and why. This symposium is focused on trying to better understand the problem and find common ground and innovative approaches to suicide prevention," said PERF Executive Director, Chuck Wexler.

The symposium featured presentations from leading researchers and experts in suicide prevention. This included sharing information on risk factors and warnings signs specifically related to law enforcement suicide, dispelling myths regarding suicidal persons, and the psychological autopsy. Experts included members of the NYPD, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, the American Association of Suicidology, the Ruderman Family Foundation, Columbia University, Griffith University, and the University at Buffalo.

The symposium also featured unique and innovative programs offered by law enforcement agencies and partners that help officers in crisis receive assistance, fight the stigma associated with seeking support services, and raise awareness of support options within and beyond their agencies. The NYPD, the National Fraternal Order of Police, the Los Angeles Police Department, Crisis Text Line, the Australian Federal Police, Police Officers Providing Peer Assistance, Boston Police Department, Blue H.E.L.P., and many others shared information with attendees.

"We commend the NYPD for taking an active role in bringing together leaders in law enforcement and suicide prevention to support officers who are struggling. We know that every police officer we lose to suicide is one too many," said Robert Gebbia, CEO of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. "With prevention education about the warning signs of suicide, and by engaging in conversation and help seeking long before a crisis, we can save lives. By working together, we can ensure that police officers feel well-equipped to support one another during challenging times."

"The American Association of Suicidology commends PERF and the NYPD for its strong national leadership in recognizing and addressing law enforcement suicide prevention," said American Association of Suicidology Executive Director Colleen Creighton. "We look forward to working with the NYPD and PERF to continue the great work initiated here today so we can help save lives and get officers the critical help they need."

"Law enforcement officers need and deserve our support. We are proud to partner with the NYPD to provide confidential crisis counseling to officers by texting BLUE to 741741," said Nancy Lublin, CEO and Founder of Crisis Text Line

The symposium concluded with attendees sharing best practices for discussing future collaborations between agencies as well as with partner organizations and researchers in order to continue working to stop suicide in law enforcement, removing the stigma associated with mental health services, and promoting the variety of services that are available.

If you are feeling suicidal or in a crisis, help is available and you have options. For emergencies, call 911. Options for help include:

  • In New York City, reach out to NYC Well:, call 1-888 NYC-WELL, text WELL to 651173
  • Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: (800) 273-TALK (8255)
  • Text TALK to Crisis Text Line at 741741, police officers text BLUE to 741741

Learn about the risk factors and warning signs associated with suicide from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

Learn more about the NYPD's suicide prevention and mental health awareness outreach for the public, and for law enforcement nationwide.

Increase your knowledge and understanding of mental illnesses and the signs of suicide to help reduce the stigma and learn to how you can help others by getting trained in Mental Health First Aid..

Background on PERF

Founded in 1976 as a nonprofit organization, the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF) is a police research and policy organization and a provider of management services, technical assistance, and executive-level education to support law enforcement agencies. PERF helps to improve the delivery of police services through the exercise of strong national leadership; public debate of police and criminal justice issues; and research and policy development.

Background on AFSP

The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention is dedicated to saving lives and bringing hope to those affected by suicide. AFSP creates a culture that¡¦s smart about mental health through education and community programs, develops suicide prevention through research and advocacy, and provides support for those affected by suicide. Led by CEO Robert Gebbia and headquartered in New York, with a Public Policy Office in Washington, D.C. AFSP has local chapters in all 50 states with programs and events nationwide. Learn more about AFSP in its latest Annual Report, and join the conversation on suicide prevention by following AFSP on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.

Background on AAS

About AAS: Founded in 1968 by Edwin S. Shneidman, PhD, AAS promotes suicide as a research discipline, public awareness programs, public education and training for professionals and volunteers. The membership of AAS includes mental health and public health professionals, researchers, suicide prevention and crisis intervention centers, school districts, crisis center volunteers, survivors of suicide loss, attempt survivors, and a variety of lay persons who have in interest in suicide prevention. You can learn more about AAS at

Background on Crisis Text Line

Crisis Text Line is a free, 24/7 support for those in crisis. Text 741741 to be connected to a live, trained Crisis Counselor. We are here for people of all ages who are in a mental or emotional state that has left them in a dangerous condition or unable to cope in a functional or productive way. Crisis Counselors complete a 30-hour training and have 24/7 supervision by full-time Crisis Text Line mental health professionals.