Commissioner Gross: Mental health support for police officers is vital

Commissioner Gross: Mental health support for police officers is vital

BOSTON — Boston Police Commissioner William Gross is making it clear that the need for mental health support for police officers in our state is vital.

Gross attended a breakfast Friday morning and spoke in front of a room full of supporters about the equipment, training, and technology, but then, a dose of reality that many don't talk about.

"A lot of people don't know that officers are facing tough times," said Gross.

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Gross pointed to what Boston 25 News has reported on for months, that more officers die from taking their own lives than in the line of duty.

Gross went a step further, revealing how many Boston police officers died or were sidelined last year.

"Officer wellness is key. Last year we lost seven officers and almost another eight to heart attacks, but no one knows," Gross said.

Not all of the deaths were due to suicide, however, many law enforcement agencies, including Boston Police, are doing more for their officers who may be struggling by offering more options to seek help with mental health.

This week, a police sergeant in Methuen tweeted, "I think it's time to implement mental health annual appointments for all #FirstResponders. Too many are dealing with burdens they can't bear."

Few are willing to argue with that and with more people talking about an issue that for years has faced a stigma, Commissioner Gross says it's time to help each other and for the community to understand.

"Seemingly everyone thinks we're robotic, nothing effects us, that everything rolls off our back. That is not the case. We have families, too. We have problems, too," said Gross.