CHICAGO - Another Chicago police officer died Thursday with officials reporting they believe he took his own life.
Jason Arends, 51, was identified by the Cook County Medical Examiner's Office as the Chicago Police Officer who investigators believe died by suicide on Thursday afternoon. Police spokesman Tom Ahern confirmed the death on Twitter.
Arends, who reportedly worked the Austin District on the city's west side, is the fifth officer to die by suicide this year alone.
As we reported after three Chicago Police officers died by suicide in July, a 2017 Justice Department report indicated the Chicago Police Department's suicide rate was 60% higher than the national average for police officers. They have not updated that information, but it is likely to have increased, particularly after these most recent cases in 2022. A review by WBEZ reporter Chip Mitchell and others at WBEZ indicated that there have been at least 16 suicides by Chicago Police Officers since 2018.
Superintendent David Brown has come under heavy criticism for the department's internal policy of canceling days off as well as the department's struggles to recruit new officers. In fact, earlier this week and after a scathing report by a city watchdog that the department had scheduled nearly 1,200 officers to work at least 11 straight days earlier this year, Brown's office announced changes in which officers can’t have more than one day-off canceled each week.
The city encourages employees and their family members suffering from emotional distress to contact counseling services through the Employee Assistance Program, which can be reached at (312) 743-0378. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline offers help to those in crisis at (800) 273-8255, and people experiencing a mental health crisis have a new way to reach out for help in the United States.
Modeled after 911, the new three-digit 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline is designed to be a memorable and quick number that connects people who are suicidal or in any other mental health crisis to a trained mental health professional.
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