Suicides by Chicago cops have steadily been rising, due largely to the emotional trauma of officers having to deal with death and destruction day after day after day.
How Bad Is This Problem? Chicago’s police suicide rate is anywhere from four to eleven points higher than the national average, according to Reuters.
Specifically, a Department of Justice report found the rate of suicides to be between 22 per 100,000 cops between 2013 and 2015, though the Chicago PD claimed that the actual rate was likely as high as 29.4.
Either way, cops in Chicago were dying left and right at a rate significantly higher than the national average of 18.1 officer suicides per 100,000.
What’s Causing This? “Chicago is a war zone,” remarked Alexa James, the executive director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness-Chicago. “They [the officers] are seeing the worst day of everybody’s life every day.”
Worse, traumatized cops rarely ever seek out help.
Consider the tale of Scott Tracz, a 30-year-old rookie cop who committed suicide last year after transforming from a reportedly upbeat and jovial person into one who was “withdrawn and sullen, struggling with the violence he witnessed as an officer but rejecting advice from friends and family to seek help, fearing it would end his career,” according to Reuters.
What’s Behind The Refusal To Seek Help? Both machoism and a fear of losing their jobs.
“Law enforcement historically has been seen as a very macho profession,” Chicago PD Superintendent Eddie Johnson said at a public forum about police reform three months ago. “To say you needed help was seen as a sign of weakness, and we were wrong for looking at it that way — we were simply wrong.”
EMS World: High Suicide Rates Among Chicago Police Call for More Mental Health Counseling
Chicago Tribune: To stem Chicago police suicide, aldermen call for more mental health counseling
Medical XPress: Police officer suicide—it’s not just about workplace stress, but culture too
Is Anything Meaningful Being Done To Stem This Rising Tide? This week city aldermen reportedly called for the Chicago PD to change its culture.
“If we’re to succeed in our goal of improving the morale and the efficiency of the department, and the tenor of police-community relations, this mindset needs to change,” said Ald. Edward Burke of the 14th Ward. ”
“The City Council must provide the necessary tools and resources to improve the availability and the quality of mental health care in the department,” he added.
Who’s Ultimately To Blame? Both those who commit the gruesome crimes that traumatize these officers and the Democrat legislators — including former President Barack Obama — who have promoted policies that have empowered the criminal elements of society.
While being a cop has always been a difficult job, it should not be this arduous. But until someone, anyone — maybe President Donald Trump? — commits to stopping the epidemic of violence and death in Chicago, there’s not much we can do but encourage the officers in our lives to never be afraid of seeking help if and when they need it.