When the NYPD received a call from an Upper East Side doctor’s office on June 29, they were informed that a “68-year-old female patient was suicidal and expressed the thought of jumping in front of a train.”
Two police officers quickly sprang into action.
Patrol officers Mirka Sasso and Craig Littlefield were able to locate the woman on the 4/5 subway platform at East 86th Street and Lexington Avenue. Sasso and Littlefield “safely remove[d] her from the platform and the patient was transported to the hospital for care,” an NYPD spokesperson told East Side Feed.
On July 5, the NYPD’s 19th Precinct announced the heroic work on its Twitter page.
Every call is a chance to help people & sometimes that help can be life-saving.
After receiving a call from a doctor about a suicidal patient, intending to jump in front of a train, our cops rushed to find the woman—found her on a platform & got her to the hospital for care. pic.twitter.com/CUdtDcvXpJ
— NYPD 19th Precinct (@NYPD19Pct) July 5, 2022
This has been a scary year on the subway tracks. In May, transit officials told the New York Post they’d seen a 50% spike in suicide attempts occurring over the first three months of the year compared to 2021. The Post went on to report, “The first three months of 2022 saw 27 suicides or suicide attempts, out of 105 total instances of ‘track intrusion,’ according to a report prepared by the MTA,” which noted that “a whopping one-in-five intruders” observed so far this year were “experiencing mental illness.”
On July 5, The Journal News reported, “New York is spending $52 million to expand access to crisis call centers amid skyrocketing demand for suicide-prevention and mental-health emergency phone counseling during the COVID-19 pandemic.” Part of this initiative begins on July 16 when the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline transitions to a new 988 number from the current 800-273-8255 line. New Yorkers will be able to call, text or chat through the number. The 800 number will continue to remain active “for a period of time,” reports The Journal News.
“Too often, people experiencing a mental health crisis or considering suicide feel as though they have no one to turn to,” said Gov. Kathy Hochul in a statement about the effort.
A New York State Office of Mental Health report from back in February also reported some concerning trends:
- The number of calls from New Yorkers to the suicide lifeline leaped 73% from 2016 to 2019, with nearly 137,500 calls in 2019 alone.
- In 2020, New York received 142,827 calls, showing a 13% increase in just one year.
- And during the first year of 988 operations, calls are estimated to spike to 442,700 in New York, including local crisis lines, 911 diversion and new callers.
- Currently, about 70% of calls are answered in-state, which is up from 45% in 2018. The 988 transition seeks to increase that percentage further.
If you are struggling with suicidal thoughts or are experiencing a mental health crisis and live in New York City, you can call 1-888-NYC-WELL for free and confidential crisis counseling.
If you live outside the five boroughs, you can dial the 24/7 National Suicide Prevention hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or go to SuicidePreventionLifeline.org.