CHICAGO (CBS) -- It's a sobering fact – more than a dozen Chicago Police officers have died by suicide in the last four years. Right now, families of those CPD officers do not get any work-related death benefits.
But as CBS 2 Political Investigator Dana Kozlov reported Tuesday night, the wife of an officer who died by suicide in 2021 hopes a proposed ordinance will change that.
"It's a daily struggle," said Julie Troglia. "Some days, I just want to scream so loud."
It has been just shy of 16 months since Trogila's husband, Chicago Police Officer Jeff Troglia, died by suicide.
"And I've looked back through pictures. I have looked back through years of our life," Julie Troglia said, "and I honestly cannot see any warning signs of this happening."
Troglia found her husband dead in their basement. He was alone in the house when he died – just days after talking to his wife about the recent suicide of another CPD officer.
"He was talking about how sad it was, and what a sad place he had to have been in - and then three days later, we were in that same situation," Troglia said.
Besides her profound grief, questions, and even anger, Troglia had to learn to care for their three young daughters without her husband. She had to figure out money and insurance, which she lost 90 days after her husband died. And because Officer Troglia took his own life, there were no CPD line-of-duty death benefits.
"Even though he didn't die in the line of duty, he gave up his life every single day," Julie Troglia said.
Ald. Matt O'Shea (19th) agrees, which is why he is pushing an ordinance to be voted upon Wednesday. The ordinance would extend those benefits to families like the Troglia family.
"If somebody we love dies of a suicide of hopelessness – which really is what it is – or of another chronic illness, we should be showing up for these people," said Alexa James, who heads Chicago's National Alliance on Mental Illness, or NAMI.
James worked with the CPD and officers for a year to help enhance mental health support programs.
"The response that I got from police in focus-grouping with them – and also just spending a lot of time with them – was: 'We welcome you. We need change. We are not OK,'" James said.
James says there has been progress. Troglia wants more.
"This conversation needs to continue to be out there, and it needs to be talked about all the time," Troglia said.
Both Troglia and James believe several factors, such as canceling officers' days off, are taking a toll on officers' mental health.
If the full City Council votes yes on O'Shea's ordinance Wednesday, it would give officers' families a year of salary and access to additional money the family could use for health care, education, and other specific expenses.
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