By PoliceOne Staff CHICAGO — After being rocked by three officer suicides in less than three months, the Chicago Police Department is taking steps to improve mental health outreach and provide more mental health resources.
The department’s officer suicide rate is 60 percent higher than other departments, according to a 2017 Department of Justice report.
To lower that rate, the department has started peer support groups and has a priest on call to provide spiritual guidance. It also plans to hire more clinical therapists, WGN9 reported.
WGN9 found there are only five therapists to assist 13,500 officers and staff.
Officer Rob Casale told WGN9 that untreated trauma suffered in the line of duty leaves its mark on everyone eventually.
“It took 20 years for it to catch up to me, but it did,” the veteran officer said.
But the stigma of counseling and mental health support keeps many Chicago cops from receiving the help they need.
Brian Warner, a former officer who served with the Chicago Police for almost 20 years, told FOX32 that an industry-wide reluctance to ask for help is officers’ “biggest hurdle.”
“The thousands of people that are shot every year in Chicago, we see it,” he said. However, too often officers often try to manage trauma on their own, because “they’re afraid … that somebody’s going to think they’re weak, that they need help.”
But there is hope, Warner said.
“If we put the resources in place and give officers the confidence to use those resources … we can certainly reduce [the 60 percent officer suicide rate],” he said.
If you are thinking about suicide, the National Suicide Prevention Hotline is available to assist callers 24/7 at 1-800-273-8255, or via webchat.