For too long, men have been silent about mental health and it’s literally killing us. Our Healthy Mind, Healthy Body series shines a light on mental health issues that everyone should be talking about.
When Nicholas Budney was a kid playing cops and robbers in his family’s backyard in Cold Spring, New York, he knew one thing for certain: he was going to be the cop. When the two boys got older, only one of them grew out of it: Chris became a chef and personal trainer, while Nick became a cop.
“What really wears the officers down today is the everyday calls,” Hernandez told .“The accident where they see two or three dead coming from home from church.In 2016, 108 cops across the country took their own lives, according to Badge of Life, a nonprofit organization that tracks police suicides; according to a 2018 study from the Ruderman Family Foundation, the number of police officers who died by suicide was more than triple that of officers who were fatally shot in the line of duty.“There is not enough conversation about mental health within police and fire departments,” the study claims.“In a sense, he felt like he always had to camouflage it and make sure everyone else around him was having a good time.” That instinct — to keep feelings hidden, to suck it up and find another outlet after bearing witness to unspeakable things — is common among cops.
In itself, it’s a product of centuries of police culture, where perceived weakness of any kind is stigmatized.
For this reason, almost every police department screens potential applicants with exhaustive personality tests — hours of interviews, hundreds of questions, and extensive background checks — to weed out those who are susceptible to mental illness or otherwise unfit for the job.
But despite departments’ efforts to hire mentally healthy candidates, enlisted officers still kill themselves at the same rate as the general population.
Right now, the mental health resources available to cops aren’t enough to overcome the forces stacked up against them — not just in the NYPD, but in law enforcement agencies across the country.
Several current and former law enforcement officers nationwide told (many under the condition of anonymity, for fear of reprisal within their departments) that reaching out for help can be a loaded process.
It's unknown if he reached out for help within his department.