CHICAGO (CBS) — Chicago Police Sergeant Lori Rice’s sister is still reeling, trying to make sense of her sister’s suicide, but she hopes to help other officers now.
Leann Starr says when it becomes OK for one officer to take his or her own life, it becomes OK for another.
She wants to help prevent that.
“I think I still have to be her voice,” Starr says.
It doesn’t really help Starr to talk about her sister’s suicide. The 82 days since the veteran Chicago police sergeant took her own life have been devastating.
“I make dinner, and I listen to my daughter’s news of the day. And so I think I’m doing what I’m supposed to do, but suicide leaves a hole no matter who it is,” she says. “And you’re never the same.”
But Starr is slowly making sense of Rice’s last days, weeks and months.
She just made a video for the Chicago Police Department. It’s an outreach to other officers who may be struggling.
“That there is help. That they reach out for the help. And I’m passionate about families recognizing that these superheroes by day are just regular people at night.”
Rice is one of seven Chicago Police Department suicides since just last July. Rice took her own life in a car in the alley behind her home.
She was going through a divorce and in a volatile relationship with a fellow sergeant, who was with her at the time and is now under investigation for a separate incident earlier this month.
At first skeptical, Starr now accepts the suicide finding.
“I’ll always have a lot of questions,” she said. “I’d like to know what happened. We were texting at 6 o’clock, and by 9:30 my sister was gone.”
Looking back she remembers seeing employee assistance program pamphlets around her sister’s apartment but dismissed them, thinking of her always strong sister who loved her job.
“I thought she could handle anything,” Starr says.
She sees it differently now.
“Why did that not set off a flag? Why didn’t I ask her?” she says.
Those questions play over and over in Starr’s mind. One way for her to try to put them to rest is to pay it forward.
“Dec. 31 if there’s not one more officer that takes their own life, then I will breathe a sigh of relief and hope that Lori has made a difference.”
The video Starr made will be shown by the department as early as Friday.
A CPD spokesperson says it’s part of other mental health outreach improvements, which include hiring eight more clinicians and beefing up clergy to help officers in need.