CHICAGO – An off-duty Chicago police officer died Saturday of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound, Chicago police said.
Patricia L. Walsh, a 51-year-old detective assigned to the financial crimes section of the department, was found dead about 4:30 p.m. inside her home in Edgebrook, according to police.
“The department was devastated to hear the news,” police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said in a phone interview with the Chicago Sun-Times. “Everyday life can be a challenge for anybody, but particularly for officers who selflessly dedicate their lives to safeguarding others.”
Guglielmi said the detective was a 21-year veteran of the department. Moreover, the financial crimes investigator worked on long-term financial cases of fraud. Colleagues described her as a tireless investigator and she was popular in the department.
According to Guglielmi, there was no indication Walsh’s death was related to her work with the department. However, he did not say what brought about this analysis.
“Our hearts are heavy as we mourn the loss of a Chicago Police detective who passed away today from an apparent suicide,” Mayor Lori Lightfoot said in a tweet Saturday night. “As a city, we have a moral responsibility to constantly strengthen the support networks, services and resources for our first responders, and end any stigma associated with reaching out for help.”
Chicago Police Department has grappled with officer suicides in recent years. Hence, the agency has responded by nearly doubling the number of counselors available to officers, with a goal of having one counselor available at every police district, according to Guglielmi.
Furthermore, the department also has peer-support officers at each police district who can coach people through difficult times, and chaplains of every religious denomination are available to speak with officers, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.
“We need to remove the stigma and talk about this,” Guglielmi said. “No one should be suffering alone.”
Anyone experiencing thoughts of self-harm can reach the National Suicide Prevention hotline at (800) 273-8255.