WATCH: NYPD Commissioner James O'Neill Discusses Mental Health, Suicide Prevention, and 9/11

September 6, 2019
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This Sunday, September 8th, marks the start of National Suicide Prevention Week, and NYPD Commissioner James O'Neill is a part of our discussion by being involved in "I'm Listening" -- an in-depth discussion happening nationwide on Entercom radio stations which will dig deep into mental health advocacy and suicide prevention.  

Related: I’m Listening’ – 2019 FEATURED GUESTS

Unfortunately, the NYPD is no stranger to suicide. Just this year alone they lost 10 officers to suicide - eight of which were active-duty. 

"We had two [suicides] before June and then Chief Steve Silks, who was due to retire in July, ended up killing himself and then after that there were five more," Commissioner O'Neill stated. "It's really difficult to talk about, but if you look at what cops do each and every day, how they take care of everybody else and there are so many times that we dont take care of each other and we don't take care of ourselves and that's what we had to take a look at after this, to make sure that the services are available both in the department and outside the department."

Commissioner O'Neill describes the support he has felt, not only from Americans but from people all over the world. He talks about a mental health center, backed by a major medical organization, which provides free services to officers where they can call, FaceTime, or make an appointment with a mental health professional. The Commissioner explains, "the biggest issue is the stigma of coming forward. It's a sign of strength to come forward, not a sign of weakness. That's the message we have to get out to all of our officers."

Next Wednesday is the 18th anniversary of 9/11. On that day, the NYPD lost 23 officers, and since then, have lost 220 to medical issues stemmed from that horrific day. Commissioner O'Neill stated "we have to continue to take care of the people that responded that day. There was no hesitation. Nobody thought about not going. And people continue to suffer..."

2018 was a great year for the Commissioner and the rest of the NYPD in terms of lowering the crime rate and arrest rate, and 2019 is even better. In 2019, the NYPD have seen 2,300 fewer crimes and nine fewer homicides than in 2018.

Before he left, we found out that Commissioner O'Neill is also a country fan -- he loves Eric Church, Chris Stapleton, and Keith Urban.

Be sure to tune in to New York's Country 94.7 on Sunday morning from 7-9am for "I'm Listening." You can call in live and join artists like Michael Ray, athletes, and medical professionals for an in-depth conversation about mental health and suicide prevention.

Prior to Sunday’s show, please SHARE YOUR STORY on how mental health or suicide has impacted your life. Select stories will be included in the broadcast.

For more information on this year’s broadcast, visit ImListening.org.