Warning: the following content contains the topic of suicide. If you feel suicidal or know someone who feels suicidal, you can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988 or text the Crisis Text Line by messaging TALK to 741741.
In Chicago, the police department is mourning as another officer recently took their life, making it the third suicide within the department in weeks.
CPD and FOP statements
The department shared its grief with a statement: “The Chicago Police Department is mourning the loss of the off-duty sergeant who succumbed to his injuries today.”
The officer was in grave condition on Saturday after their attempt.
The Fraternal Order of Police also tweeted, “We’re devastated. Two of our members recently died by suicide and we just got word that a third member died by suicide earlier today.”
Attached to the tweet was a quote by former department member and FOP President John Catanzara.
“We can always do a better job of looking out for our brothers and sisters in trying to pay attention to possible crisis moments that we can intervene,” the quote read. “This isn’t a fool proof system, we’re never going to stop it 100%, but we certainly can try. And we owe it to our brothers and sisters wearing the badge to do just that.”
The CPD has reported more than a dozen suicides since 2018, while a 2017 Justice Department report stated that the CPD’s suicide rate was 60% higher than the nationwide average.
The most recent report comes one day after another officer was found dead in his home and weeks after another took her life.
On Friday, 5th District officer Durand Lee was found dead in his residence, according to Chicago police spokesman Tom Ahern.
It was ruled by the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office that his death was a suicide. The medical examiner identified Lee on Friday afternoon.
On the morning of July 2, the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office reported that 29-year-old Patricia Swank had taken her own life.
The third officer’s identity has not yet been released, but the department is sharing its emotional sentiments by reaching out to the city, saying:
“We ask that the city wrap its arms around this sergeant’s loved ones as they mourn his loss. Please take a moment to pray for the men and women of CPD, who are grieving alongside this sergeant’s family.”
Former police officer Jamay Nellum-Fane also chimed in, saying, “It’s very heartbreaking to know that an officer was under so much stress, so depressed, they felt that they’re only way out is to take their life.”
Nellum-Fane served the department for over 16 years and retired earlier in April. She added that the emotional stress of being a police officer has grown more pressing.
“The days off being canceled, and then we have to be real – the stress that our officers are under responding to calls – person with a gun, person shot, domestic battery, child abuse, sexual assault,” she said, and explained that stress led her to retire.
“I went through that dark period, facing depression, facing PTSD, facing post-traumatic stress,” Nellum-Fane elaborated. “It was just too much. It was over-bearing.”
Jamay Nellum-Fane echoed the FOP’s sentiments, saying, “I think they have to be more creative and actually assign maybe counselors, social workers, whatever the case is, to actual districts.”
The Chicago Police Department tweeted and said:
“We are in the midst of the most difficult and challenging time to be a Police Officer in this country. Officer well-being and overall mental health is our top priority.”
“Our Employee Assistance Program (EAP and Professional Counseling Division provides free and confidential programs to all active and retired department members and their families,” they added. “We stand with our officers.”
If you feel suicidal or know someone who feels suicidal, you can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988 or text the Crisis Text Line by messaging TALK to 741741.
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