Thursday, July 12, 2018

Crisis in Chicago - Mental Health Emergencies in Chicago, Part 1

July 12th, 2018
Chicago, Il

Since 2016, Chicago-One News has been investigating the bigger picture of Chicago's mental health. This morning, some numbers are showing what Chicago residents and visitors can't see with their own eyes.

A freedom of information act request to the Chicago Office of Emergency Management and Communications has revealed that the number of calls to 911 for psychiatric emergencies from January 1st of 2016, through May 31st of 2018 totals 80,411

Just days ago, on-duty Chicago Police Officer Brandon Krueger, used his service weapon to commit suicide in his squad car at the 5th district station located at 727 E. 111th. Officer Krueger was a tactical officer assigned to CPD's Organized Crime Unit, and had only been with the department for five years. Officer Krueger was 36 years old, and left behind two children. Krueger's suicide is listed at the Cook County Medical Examiner's Office as case# ME2018-03194.

2017 was the city's worst year out of the requested dataset, with 34,581 calls for psychiatric emergencies. Though the first half of this year has 14,919 calls for psychiatric emergencies, and we are in July, there are 5 more months in the year before we know the total tally in this category for 2018.

It is important to note these stats are not inclusive of psychiatric emergencies discovered by police and EMS units in the field, and are also not inclusive of psychiatric emergencies where city emergency responders are not involved such as in the case of private transport of some kind, or self-transport to the hospital by some means (walking, biking, taxi, public transit)

When those stats are taken into account, we can reasonably assume that the number of psychiatric emergencies in each year are much higher. If we adjust for those psychiatric emergencies that end in suicide, the number jumps even higher. A cursory look at the Cook County Medical Examiner's public dataset using the option to view only suicide cases reveals a great deal of suicides when we look only at those that occur inside the boundaries of the City of Chicago.

The violence rates in Chicago are further reflective of the mental health crisis in Chicago. The Chicago Tribune has been tracking this year's murder statistics, and the number of people killed in Chicago from January 1st 2018, through July 8th, 2018, stands at 252.

Chicago-One News is only counting murders, not homicides. Homicide is a legal term, and not all homicides are murders. All murders ARE homicides, however. Homicide means death by the hands of another human being, some of which are counted as legally justified by way of self-defense. Some homicides are accidental and also don't always meet the criteria for murder or manslaughter.

This year alone, 1,485 people have been shot in Chicago. There have been 1,249 wounded out of those 1,485 people shot. (Source: Chicago Police Data)

In 2017, there were 357 murders in Chicago. During 2016, there were 762 murders, 3,550 shooting incidents, and out of those incidents, 4,331 people were shot.(Source: Chicago Police Data)

How can the number of shooting victims exceed the number of shooting incidents? Because bullets ricochet and hit unintended victims, and even when an intended victim is hit, the bullets don't always stop when they hit the victim.

The mental health crisis now expands beyond just the shooting victims regardless of whether the victim lives or dies, because we must account for witnesses to the shooting incidents and those who are close to the victims. There are no statictics regarding how many of these individuals experience psychological and / or psychiatric trauma and refuse to seek help.

Chicago-One has obtained the police and fire/EMS dispatch policies and protocol from the Chicago Office of Emergency Management and Communications through a Freedom of Information Act Request. Chicago-One will have more for you in a later piece that will examine what a psychiatric response in Chicago looks like from the time a 911 call is made.

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