CHICAGO — A new Chicago ordinance would pay families of first responders who have died by suicide for the first time ever.
Suicide was the second-leading cause of death for law enforcement in 2021, only behind COVID-19, according to Blue H.E.L.P.
Up until 19th Ward Ald. Matt O’Shea’s proposed ordinance, the city does not provide death benefit to spouses of first responders who die by suicide.
“There have been more than 20 first responders over the past 5 years in the CPD and CFD police officers, firefighters, paramedics who have died by suicide,” Ald. O’Shea said.
O’Shea said he met the wives of two officers who have recently died by suicide. Instead of filing a lawsuit, he said he wanted to help change the system.
“There’s not much we can do about the pain and the suffering or the terrible loss for the children and those left behind but government can step up and provide a modest financial benefit and that’s what this is all about,” he said.
Under the proposal, which has unanimous support from City Council and Mayor Lightfoot, would have Chicago pay out one year’s salary to spouses and provide between $20,000 to $40,000 for education, health insurance and housing if the couple had any children. The ordinance would be retroactive to 2018.
In 2022, Chicago approved funding for CPD to hire 11 more mental health counselors — which would double the current number on staff.