An off-duty Chicago police officer died Saturday of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, according to Chicago police.
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 Chicago police and the Cook County medical examiner’s office.
“The department was devastated to hear the news,” police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said in a phone interview. “Everyday life can be a challenge for anybody, but particularly for officers who selflessly dedicate their lives to safeguarding others.”
Guglielmi said Walsh, a 21-year veteran of the department, worked on long-term investigations of financial fraud and that there was no indication her death was related to her work.
Colleagues described her as a tireless investigator and she was popular within the department, Guglielmi said.
“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.”
The police department has grappled with officer suicides in recent years. The department has responded by nearly doubling the number of counselors available to officers, with a goal to have a counselor available at every police district, according to Guglielmi.
The department also has peer-support officers at each police district who can coach officers through difficult times, and chaplains of every religious denomination are available to speak with officers.
“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.