Good afternoon. Here’s the latest news you need to know in Chicago. It’s about a 5-minute read that will brief you on today’s biggest stories.
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The number of suicides among Black people in Cook County is sharply up this year
Malik Webber loved to eat. Chicken. Chitlins. Spaghetti. Dressing. He was social, with lots of friends, and always a smile on his face.
These are the things Angie Graves remembers most about him. Graves, 48, knew Webber since he was a kid. He lived a few houses down from her on a North Lawndale block where everybody knows everybody.
Webber died by suicide in March. He was 21.
“You still ask yourself why,” said Graves, who took in Webber when he was a teenager and calls him her son. She doesn’t know why Webber killed himself. He didn’t leave a note.
Midway through 2020, Cook County is seeing an alarming rise in the number of suicides among Black residents. The number of deaths already has matched all of last year and has this year on pace to be the worst in a decade.
As of July 24, the Cook County medical examiner’s office has recorded 57 deaths of Black men, women and children from suicide this year. That compares to 56 — which was a nine-year low — for all of 2019. Since 2010, the average number has been 65 a year.
Seven of the deaths this year, including Webber’s, occurred within a single two-mile radius in North Lawndale, an examination of data from the medical examiner’s office shows.
There hasn’t been a similar rise in suicides among white Cook County residents. Whites account for the majority of suicides here as well as nationally. Nor has there been a rise in suicide among Latinos.
The rise in the number of Black Cook County residents taking their own lives this year began even before the onset of the coronavirus pandemic and the state’s stay-at-home order. Most of the victims were male. The median age at death was 36, according to the medical examiner’s data. But the youngest victim, a boy who died earlier this month, was only 9 years old.
The deaths overwhelmingly occurred in Chicago, often in South Side and West Side neighborhoods with high rates of unemployment and poverty — communities that also have disproportionately been hit by the pandemic in terms of the number of deaths and the resulting economic devastation.
There’s no single explanation for the rising number of suicides. But, according to the CDC, anxiety and depression are up among Black Americans in general amid the COVID-19 pandemic and a national reckoning over racism, including how Black people disproportionately are victims of poverty and police abuse.
The increase in Cook County could indicate an emerging crisis for Black Americans’ mental health during the pandemic, some researchers and people who work in the field said, but they caution that it’s too soon to know that for certain.
More news you need
- The year that everyone can’t wait to be done with won’t be over anytime soon: Gov. J.B. Pritzker said today that Illinois is unlikely to return to normalcy until sometime next year. “We’re not there yet,” he said. “And frankly, we’re not going to be there until 2021, in my humble opinion.”
- Northwestern Medicine is seeking up to 5,000 people to take part in upcoming vaccine studies to find a preventative treatment for COVID-19. Here’s how to sign up.
- Three people were killed and 56 more were wounded in shootings across Chicago over the weekend. The numbers are the lowest the city has seen in over a month.
- Hundreds of Chicago police officers have been reassigned to two new teams that aim to foster community relationships and protect the rights of peaceful demonstrators downtown. About 300 officers will be assigned to the newly formed Community Safety Team, with another 250 or so officers going to the department’s Crisis Intervention Response Team.
- Mayor Lori Lightfoot said the city will add Wisconsin to the list of states falling under a 14-day quarantine order. The order that now applies to anyone arriving in Chicago from 19 states is not being strictly enforced; compliance is voluntary.
- While those looking to break into the recreational marijuana business have seen their prospects put on hold during the pandemic, one company that doesn’t even deal in cannabis has profited handsomely. KPMG, an accounting firm based in the Netherlands, was awarded $7 million in no-bid contracts to grade applications for new recreational pot licenses.
A bright one
Lollapalooza 2020, which will be held virtually due to the coronavirus pandemic, announced its official lineup today.
The star-studded roster for the 4-day music festival July 30-Aug. 2 includes fan-favorite sets by Paul McCartney, Chance the Rapper, Arcade Fire, Outkast, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Metallica, LCD Soundsystem, Ellie Goulding, Lorde and more from prior Lolla fests, as well as new performances and special guest appearances. And it’s all free.
The festival of music videos will air exclusively on YouTube starting at 5 p.m. each night. The complete schedule will be announced on Wednesday.
More than 150 performances and appearances featuring “classic archival sets from some of the festival’s most popular headliners” will be streamed. New performances will also be among the mix, from artists including H.E.R., Jamila Woods, Kaskade, Vic Mensa, Alison Wonderland and more.
From the press box
Finally healthy after recovering from a new type of shoulder surgery, Calvin de Haan gives the Blackhawks’ defense a welcomed boost ahead of the postseason. He’s hoping the latest procedure will put him past his persistent shoulder problems for good.
MLB’s ongoing restart hit a major snag today as 14 members of the Marlins reportedly tested positive for COVID-19 in recent days. Two games have already been postponed, and it’s possible the entire season is in jeopardy, USA Today writes.
Your daily question ☕
With today’s announcement of Lolla’s virtual 2020 lineup, we want to know: What’s the best performance you’ve ever seen at Lollapalooza?
Email us (please include your first name and where you live) and we might include your answer in the next Afternoon Edition.
Friday, we asked you to tell us about your favorite Jerry Taft memory. Here’s what some of you said…
“His giggles and the wave at the end of the show.” — Linda Brychel Harris
“I was a teenager and met him outside ABC 7 once. We talked for 15 minutes about golf, not the weather. He had a pitching wedge and a golf ball with him, and he was balancing it on the blade of the wedge. He told me, ‘if you can do that, I’ll let you do the weather.’” — Jason Wieder
“That time his clicker wasn’t working so he did some little matrix dance moves and exited stage right!” — Holly Baker
Whenever he would speak of a weather record: ‘On this date back in 1925 we set a record,’ and he’d say, ‘and, no, I was not alive back then.’“ — Marcus Perez
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