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Chicago Police Officer Dies In Suicide At Bunker Hill Forest Preserve

CHICAGO (CBS) -- A Chicago police officer died from suicide Monday night at the Bunker Hill Forest Preserve on the Northwest Side.

Cook County Sheriff's officers responded to the Bunker Hill Forest Preserve near Caldwell and Tonty avenues around 7 p.m. in connection to a death investigation, according to sheriff's spokesman Matt Walberg.

Officer Paul Escamilla, 40, was found dead, according to the Cook County Medical Examiner's office. An autopsy has been scheduled for Tuesday, but Chicago police said Escamilla died from suicide.

Chicago Police Department spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said Escamilla was a 17-year veteran of the department and worked in the Rogers Park District.

"Our deepest condolences to his family & prayers for his extended police family in the 24th District," Guglielmi wrote on Twitter.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot also shared her condolences on Twitter.

"Our hearts are heavy tonight as a we mourn the loss of a dedicated Chicago Police officer. We extend our heartfelt thoughts and deepest sympathy to the officer's family and friends, and to his brothers and sisters in the 24th District," she wrote. "To the rest of the Chicago Police Department, know that help is here for you and you'll never be alone — Chicago will be with you every step of the way."

The mayor issued a longer statement on Tuesday afternoon:

"I am heartsick as we mourn the passing of beloved Chicago Police Officer Paul Escamilla. As a member of a CPD family and a 17-year veteran of the Department, he most recently served in the Rogers Park neighborhood where he was revered by his fellow officers and community members. Officer Escamilla earned more than 120 awards for his service, but the number of people he impacted is the true measure of his devotion, and that cannot be quantified. Our entire city offers our condolences to his wife, children, extended family, friends and CPD colleagues—and we mourn with them.

"No one should feel they are alone or think they have nowhere to turn, especially our first responders. From the moment they put on their uniform, they answer a call that at any second may put their lives in danger or inflict trauma. That is why we, as a city, have an obligation to constantly strengthen the support network they have, and strive to end any negative perception of reaching out for help. Chicago's first responders deserve nothing less."

Escamilla's death was the fourth suicide for the Chicago Police Department this year.

Guglielmi said the department encourages all personnel to come forward if they need help or just need to talk.

Last year, the department kicked off an internal campaign focused on suicide prevention, dubbed "You Are Not Alone CPD." The department also increased the number of counselors available to officers from 5 to 11.

Guglielmi said the Chicago Police Department has one of the highest rates of officer suicide in the country.

If you or anyone you know needs help, it's a phone call away at the National Suicide Prevention Hotline, at 800-273-8255.

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