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Another Chicago Police Officer Dies by Suicide

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Chicago
Courtesy of Thomas Hawk (Flickr CC0)

Sadly, another Chicago police officer has died by suicide, making it the fifth one for the city this year. Jason Arends, 51, was off-duty when he took his own life yesterday. The Chicago Police Department stated they had “experienced the heartbreaking loss.” They asked, “that the people of Chicago pray for this officer’s family, loved ones, and fellow officers as they mourn this devastating loss.”

Just a few short months ago the city lost three officers when they took their own lives in July.  Andy Dobda, Durand Lee, and Patricia Swank death’s by suicide highlighted the crisis within the CPD, Arends death just enforced it.

Chicago
Courtesy of Inventorchris (Flickr CC0)

Last week, the department announced they are working with the “National Alliance on Mental Illness” to get their officers the help they need. The organization stated that through the partnership, they were able to identify a need to offer mental health support to officers because law enforcement culture has focused on “toughening up.” This thought process has prevented officers from seeking help.

Since 2018, the city of Chicago has had 20 sworn officers die by their own doing, including five from this year. The U.S. Department of Justice released data in 2017 showing the department’s suicide rate was 60% higher than the national average.

On June 16, 2020, the United States Congress enacted the Law Enforcement Suicide Data Collection Act to help the nation understand the factors related to law enforcement officer suicides. According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Crime Data Explorer, “the legislation is comprised of information designed to assist in the development of programs, and potential resources, to help prevent suicides.”

Acting through the FBI, the Law Enforcement Suicide Data Collection Act charges the U.S. Attorney General to establish the data collection. This information contains incidental data on attempted suicides and suicides based on the following:

  • The occupational category. For example, criminal investigator, line of duty officer, corrections officer, and 911 dispatch operator, of each law enforcement officer who commits or attempts suicide.
  • The demographic information of each law enforcement officer who commits or attempts suicide.
  • The circumstances and events which occurred before each suicide or attempted suicide.
  • The general location of each suicide or attempted suicide.
  • The method used in each suicide or attempted suicide.

The program does not collect personal information on any individual keeping the data they collect confidential. At the beginning of this year authorized agencies including telecommunications, corrections, law enforcement, and the legal system — adjudicators and prosecutors — have been able to submit suicide data for their officers.

Recently, Chicago Police Superintendent David Brown asserted, “The physical and emotional wellbeing of our officers remains the top priority of our department.”

Counseling services will be provided to employees and their families by the city through the Employee Assistance Program. These individuals can reach the Employee Assistance Program by calling (312)743-0378.

In 2019, there were 236 officers who committed suicide. That number dropped to 176 in 2020. The following year there were 160 law enforcement suicides. So far this year 99 officers have killed themselves.

Life can be stressful and extremely difficult at times, suicide should never be the answer to solving these issues. There are people out there who would like to and can assist with troubling thoughts. To talk to a confidential emotional support person for free people can call 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255).

People can also call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988 or text HOME to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741.

National Law Enforcement Suicide Awareness Day is observed every year on September 26. Spreading mental health awareness may help save a life.

Written by Sheena Robertson

Sources:

Fox 32 Chicago: ‘Heartbreaking loss’: Chicago police officer dies by suicide Thursday, CPD says
Federal Bureau of Investigation: Crime Data Explorer
Block Club Chicago: Cops In Crisis: After 3 Officers Die Of Suicide In A Month, Colleagues Say They’ve Reached A ‘Breaking Point’
WGN-TV: Off-duty Chicago police officer dies of apparent suicide
Federal Bureau of Investigation: Law Enforcement Suicide Data Collection (LESDC)
Blue H.E.L.P.: Honoring the Service of Law Enforcement Officers Who Died by Suicide

Top and Featured Courtesy of Thomas Hawk‘s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image Courtesy of Inventorchris’ Flickr Page – Creative Commons License

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