Officer in NYPD peer support program says training helped saved the life of strangerPosted: Updated:
The NYPD launched its peer support program in September, training officers who volunteered their time to become counselors to their colleagues.
The program comes as 10 NYPD officers have taken their own lives in 10 months, bringing the topic of mental health into the forefront.
One of the volunteers of the peer support program says it's that training that helped her save the life of a stranger in the Bronx.
“I specifically asked her if she wanted to kill herself. She said ‘yes,’" says Erika Luna.
Luna says that response will likely stick with her for the rest of her life. She’s been on the job for 19 years and is currently assigned to the strategic response group. Luna is also one of the newly trained volunteer peer counselors.
She graduated from the three-day course on Sept. 26. The training would come in handy less than one month later.
On Oct. 16, Officer Luna had just left Bronx headquarters where she addressed roll call, offering any support she could - and letting them know what mental services are available.
"Out of the corner of my eye, I saw someone sitting on the ledge facing the Major Deegan,” she says.
She says something felt off, so she stopped to check on the woman.
Luna says the woman was crying and not making eye contact – that’s when her peer training kicked in.
She says she continued to talk to the woman while calling 911 at the same time.
She talked to her until help arrived. Luna credits her training in the peer support program.
Detective Shane Rogers is one of the instructors.
"I know the training works, but to see it come to fruition and have a cop, off duty on her own time, save a young woman's life … it was humbling. I’m very proud of her,” says Rogers.
He says he hopes other officers who see what she did will want to also go through the training and become a volunteer peer counselor.
Officer Luna says she hasn't seen the woman since what happened along the Major Deegan Expressway. While the situation lasted less than 30 minutes, she says she will carry those moments with her forever.
"She said thank you, which meant the world to me," says Luna.
Those who need help can contact the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 800-273-8255.