The Chicago police are mourning the loss of one of their own again.
The Chicago Police Department says a veteran officer took her own life Wednesday morning—marking the third suicide within the department in just two months.
It’s a topic of concern first outlined in a Department of Justice report that has led to reform within the department.
Fraternal Order of Police president, Kevin Graham, said he’s helped nearly 150 officers with various mental health concerns over the last decade.
But it never gets easier to face reality.
“It is particularly sad when the officer takes a permanent solution to a temporary problem,” Graham said. “When they come to work and they have an amazing amount of stress they have to deal with, sometimes it’s overwhelming.”
The officer who died Wednesday was working on the Far South Side in the 5th Police District. She took her own life in a personal vehicle, according to the department.
Graham says she was about to start her shift.
Earlier this month —over the Labor Day holiday weekend, a police supervisor took his life in a vehicle.
And in July another officer killed himself in the parking lot of the Calumet police station.
Alexa James, with the National Alliance on Mental Illness in Chicago, is a part of the team working with 12,000 officers to train them on handling mental illness concerns on the beat.
“We put them on this pedestal of, they can’t accumulate trauma like all of us, but they do,” James said of police officers.
In the DOJ report on the Chicago Police Department— it was found that CPD’s suicide rate was more than 60 percent higher than the national average in law enforcement.
CPD says it plans to hire additional mental health clinicians— but James says many officers are concerned to reach out—fearing their Firearm Owners Identification card could be revoked if they seek mental health help.
However— just last month— Gov. Bruce Rauner signed a bill to protect officers in that category.
“We’re talking about folks who are struggling, life is hard, the job is hard,” James said. “They should be able to raise their hand and say, listen, I’d really like to talk to someone and process this trauma with them and not feel like there’s this oppressive nature.”
Additional details on the identity of this officer have not been released.
Both James and the FOP stressing for officers to take advantage of the employee assistance program that continues to expand.
If you are in crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255 or reach out to the Crisis Text Line by texting “Home’”to 741741.