He’s one of the strongest cops in the world, but he’s struggled with suicidal thoughts.
On Tuesday, Cmdr. Grant Edwards of the Australian Federal Police will come to NYPD headquarters and pull two police vehicles weighing about 70,000 pounds — all to help crush the stigma surrounding mental health issues police officers face.
“We don’t talk about it, we brush it under, and a lot of police are suffering out there, me being one,” the 54-year-old cop said.
Edwards was named Australia’s Strongest Man in 1999 and competed in the World’s Strongest Man competition that same year.
The 6-foot-4, nearly 300-pound cop has pulled a steam locomotive, aircraft and mining trucks. At 3 p.m. Tuesday, he plans to pull an Emergency Services Unit vehicle attached to a BearCat armored vehicle. It’s training for an even bigger haul in a few weeks, when he plans to pull a 418,898-pound cargo plane at Dover Air Force Base.
Edwards says he struggles with post-traumatic stress disorder from his 32 years on the job, his work reviewing child pornography and his frustration at not being able to save the victims, and his from his military service in Afghanistan.
And at one point, he planned out his own suicide, looking at ways to stage it like an accident.
“I often say that you can be strong, you can look strong, you can represent as everything, but mentally, you’re weak, and that can happen to anyone,” he said.
So far this year, four active NYPD officers have committed suicide, and in 2016, four officers and one school safety agent killed themselves.
The NYPD offers a variety of programs, and in 2014 launched an “Are You OK?” campaign aimed at promoting mental health awareness.
“As a profession, not only in the U.S., but in Australia as well, we’re losing too many good people to suicide,” Edwards said. “And we’re not doing enough in that space and we have to talk about it more.”