Jens Ludgwig the University of Chicago's Crime Lab expert says that reducing Chicago's gun violence must be a priority of the next mayor. He pointed out a study by another University of Chicago colleague that showed every homicide reduces the City's population by 70 people. With that in mind, if Chicago had reduced it's homicide rate as much as New York in the early 90s, the City would have 600,000 more residents. A startling new revelation that just adds to Chicago's failure to address the ongoing mayhem. A Bloomberg analysis in December of 2017 put the cost of Chicago's violence at a staggering 2.5 billion dollars yearly, $15,500 per household. Besides the grief and agony and the enormous expense Dr Ludwig pointed to another almost hidden side effect. The suicide rate among Chicago Police is 60% higher than the national average.
In 2018 for the 3rd straight year Police Officer suicides nationwide, exceeds all combined line of duty deaths. Last year 159 Police Officers committed suicide, 9% more than the total of line of duty deaths. The average age was 41 years old with an average length of service of 15 years, in other words, veterans. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder ( PTSD ) for the most part has been attributed to Military Personal, those who have served in combat situations and other highly dangerous situations over a period of time.
I can say from personal experience that Cops are facing this type of exposure day after day, year after year, with little or no support. It's a cumulative or chronic type of PTSD that needs addressing. The state of being hyper-vigilant or being hyper-aroused presents a physical or physiological state that needs coping mechanisms that are drastically lacking. Self medication through alcohol and 'TURNING OFF are a frightful relief.
Mental help experts have said that secondary trauma or vicarious trauma are serious disorders for individuals such as Cops who are constantly working with traumatized individuals and communities. They are susceptible too, and can develop secondary or vicarious trauma, by not only witnessing the suffering of others on a daily basis, but are also at risk of physical harm themselves while on the job. Most cops are not trained to identify or manage vicarious trauma, and most certainly are not encouraged to seek help after witnessing or experiencing a traumatic event. Chicago most especially has been lacking in that area and I believe we are seeing the results. Six suicide's in 8 months is cause for alarm. Below is yet another headline. Those headlines come and go, and after they go, very little if anything comes in the form of help.
Many, many, officers experience traumatic events on an almost daily basis, and experience cumulative trauma, rather than a single event. Untreated, these symptoms can and do impact decision making, increase the use of unhealthy coping mechanisms, like alcohol consumption, and "INCREASE THE RISK OF SUICIDE." Chicago, and the Cops that serve and protect deserve to have those who serve in the best mental health state possible. Is it more talk and go? We are watching and hoping that the next mayor not only recognizes the priority of stopping the epidemic of violence but a surging epidemic of health issues of those who serve and protect. First responders deserve to be cared for.
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