New York, NY – The Mayor’s office is claiming to focus on increasing crime and violence. However, it would appear the task is more than Eric Adams bargained for. Although New York City saw a 15.8% drop in homicides compared to March 2021, the overall crime index, according to the NYPD, increased by 36.5% in March 2022.
Other statistics over the same time period show a 48.4% increase in robberies; a 40.5% increase in grand larceny and a 40% increase in burglaries. Shooting incidents went up by 16.2%. The NYPD is reporting 1,207 arrests for illegal firearms in the first quarter of 2022.
The figures are frightening. Does the mayor have the right plan? That remains to be seen. The scourge of homelessness, crime and an overburdened mental health system will all become more acute during the warmer months. Overdoses and opiate-related deaths will climb higher.
While living in the street is hard no matter what time of year, the warmer months are certainly less harsh than New York City’s often brutal cold winters. Shelters are in place to help those in need. But those who struggle with behavioral issues and severe mental illness are less likely to enter the shelter system.
Still, the summer does come with some scientific data which might suggest a seasonal reprieve. More daylight and our increased exposure to it can have an enormous impact on our levels of serotonin. This affects our moods as well as improves our melatonin, which works with our moods and sleep. Studies have shown that, aside from the phenomena of seasonal affective disorder, summer can, in fact, be somewhat of an easier time for those who struggle with mental health disorders. Google searches for certain mental illnesses are down in summer in comparison to searches made in winter.
This does not mean, however, mental health disorders will disappear or go away in summer. Substance and alcohol use disorders refuse to give way. According to the JAMA Psychiatry, the number of people seeking mental health support actually goes up during periods of intense heat. Data also shows an elevated rate of emergency room visits for childhood-onset behavioral and substance use disorders, including anxiety, stress and mood disorders.
All this underscores the fact that we have an enormous city to take care of and the new mayor has a huge problem on his hands. There’s a lot of talk about improving subway safety, but it would appear there is still much work to be done, and without public buy-in, the mayor will have to applaud his own efforts with one hand tied behind his back.
Perhaps, NYC will experience a seasonal reprieve. Or maybe not. Either way, the masks are coming off. People are returning from more than two-years of separation and social distancing. So, ante up, Mr. Mayor. And get it right.
You have a city just waiting to be great again.
Ben Kimmel is a proud member of the IUOE Local 94, as well as an Author, Writer on thewrittenaddiction.com, Mental Health First Aid Instructor, Wellbeing and DEI Content Provider, Certified Addiction and Recovery Coach, Certified Professional Life Coach, and Peer & Wellness Advocate. Ben can be reached at email@example.com