Examiner reported yesterday that you can rent a friend in our increasingly lonely society. Friendly people are also being paid up to $80 per hour to hug people and change the atmosphere of the city. Now, according to the New York Post, hugs really work! The NYPD reports at its Website today that an off-duty police officer saved the life of a person who wanted to commit suicide in a crowded shopping mall – by offering a friendly hug.
The NY neighborhood hero was Officer Christian Campoverde of the 40th Precinct. He was apparently shopping with his family at the Queens Center Mall in New York on the day of the incident. While walking up an escalator, he overheard a man mumbling that he wanted to kill himself. The man was pushing mall patrons aside abruptly as he made his way to the third floor.
Campoverde followed the man and found him preparing to jump off over the third-floor balcony railing, with one leg already overboard. Campoverde grabbed the man’s wristband and started a conversation: Campoverde asked the man, “Is it OK if I give you a hug, do you want a hug?” When the man replied, “Yes,” Campoverde brought him to safety. Police stationed at the mall also aided in subduing him. Police said that the man was brought by EMS for evaluation.
Seeing someone in need of help was all that was needed for Campoverde to take action. Apparently, Campoverde had just completed the NYPD’s Crisis Intervention Team training during the week prior to the incident. The pivotal training promotes empathy and compassion in crisis situations. Police officers are also trained with mental health professionals to promote safety.
The American Foundation For Suicide Prevention (AFSP) maintains data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) about suicide. The CDC collects and reports data about mortality in the U.S., including deaths by suicide. 2013 is the most recent year for which robust data is available. In that year alone, over 41,000 suicides were reported. According to the most current data, suicide is the 10th leading cause of death for Americans. Statistically, died by suicide every 12.8 minutes in the U.S. (2013).
The CDC reports that “from 1986 to 2000, suicide rates in the U.S. dropped from 12.5 to 10.4 suicide deaths per 100,000 people in the population. Over the next 12 years, however, the rate generally increased and by 2013 stood at 12.6 deaths per 100,000.” Unfortunately, the suicide numbers for 2015 are likely higher than the current data.
The NYPD also made headlines last year when they averted the suicide attempt of a man who threatened to jump off of the Brooklyn Bridge in May (pictured). Not all suicides are publicized and a moment of silence is for those who also suffered in silence… As New York prepares for its annual New Years Eve celebration (video), the Crisis Intervention Team will surely be on hand. Thankfully, first-responders are sometimes in the right place at the right time, even when they are off duty.