CHICAGO — Several recent officer suicides prompted a response Monday from Chicago police Supt. David Brown and department officials.
The latest incident happened over the weekend when a CPD sergeant took his own life with a gun. He is the third Chicago police officer who died by suicide this month.
Officials released the following statement Sunday:
The Chicago Police Department is mourning the loss of the off-duty sergeant who succumbed to his injuries today. We ask that the city wrap its arms around this sergeant’s loved ones as they mourn his loss. Please also take a moment to pray for the men and women of CPD, who are grieving alongside this sergeant’s family.
The superintendent, along with some of the top brass, department chaplains and the director of the emergency assistance program, held a press conference Monday and talked about the resources available to the police department — and the stigma that still surrounds mental health care for law-enforcement.
While the department has more than tripled the number of clinicians available to work with officers, there are currently only 11 for a department of nearly 14,000.
Three more will be added by Aug. 1, with a goal of 22 total.
“It is our obligation and responsibility to look out for those officers and if we are concerned about them, make sure they get to the resources that are available. So we are available immediately for any officer that is in a crisis or that there may be some concern about, and our supervisors have the ability to bring them down for immediate support or intervention ,” said Dr. Robert Sobo, director of the employee assistance program.
Whether or not that intervention within the department is enough is a matter of debate.
The question is, with now three suicides in the month of July alone, do officers in CPD feel comfortable enough seeking help when needed and is the help offered working?
“The demands of this job are many and officers work to balance all that comes with it. And they do so amid full lives with their families and the commitments and joys and the sorrows. Police officers are human and they have struggles just like everyone else,” said Supt. Brown.
Over the weekend, the National Suicide and Crisis Lifeline rolled out the new 9-8-8 network.
If you’re having suicidal thoughts or know someone who is, the free National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is now 988.
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