Cunningham champions officer suicide prevention measures

cunningham 052219SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois Senate has approved two measures aimed at preventing suicide and promoting mental health among police officers and firefighters.

House Bills 2766 and 2767 both passed with bipartisan support, marking a major win in the fight against mental health concerns plaguing first responders.

“Officer suicide has become an epidemic in recent years and it’s time to take serious action to help our law enforcement community,” said Cunningham, a Democrat who represents portions of Chicago and the southwest suburbs. “I’m committed to doing all I can to make sure officers have all the resources they need available to stop these tragedies from continuing.”

House Bill 2766, on which Cunningham is a cosponsor, creates the First Responders Suicide Prevention Act. The act includes provisions to implement training for individuals tasked with providing peer support counseling to colleagues, requires police and fire departments to develop disciplinary measures for those who violate confidentiality agreements and creates a civil cause of action for employees whose employment status is adversely affected by information obtained during a counseling session.

“The best person to provide support for an officer or firefighter who is experiencing mental health issues is a peer who understands the pressure they deal with at work,” said Cunningham. “This legislation will empower these men and women to provide ample support for their colleagues and ensure the confidentiality of peer support is protected.”

House Bill 2767, which Cunningham sponsors, would require the Illinois Law Enforcement Training and Standards Board to develop a course addressing the issues of officer wellness and suicide prevention. The course would be included in the training requirements police officers must complete before graduating the police academy and would also need to be completed every three years after graduation.

The training would be required to include recognizing signs of work-related cumulative stress, issues that may lead to suicide and solutions for intervention with peer support resources.  

“There’s been a stigma for far too long among law enforcement officers that seeking help for mental health issues makes you weak or unfit for your work,” Cunningham said. “There’s nothing further from the truth and I hope that this course will preempt this myth by showing officers that it’s okay to ask for help.”

House Bill 2766 passed the Senate 48-7. House Bill 2767 passed the Senate 55-0.

Senator Bill Cunningham


Assistant Majority Leader
President Pro Tempore
18th Legislative District

Years served: 2013 - Present

Committee assignments: Energy and Public Utilities; Executive Appointments; Higher Education; Insurance; Assignments (Vice-Chairperson); Executive (Vice-Chairperson).

Biography: Born July 21, 1967. Full-time state legislator and lifelong resident of the 18th Senate District. Graduate of Mt. Carmel High School; B.A. in Political Science from the University of Illinois-Chicago. Former Chief of Staff and Director of Communications for the Cook County Sheriff's Office. Previously served as a State Representative (2011-13) and as an elected member of the Sutherland Local School Council. Resides in Chicago's Beverly community with wife, Juliana, and two daughters, Madeline and Olivia.

Associated Representatives:
Kelly M. Burke
Frances Ann Hurley