Category Archives: suicide

Parents Claim Hazing Led To Jordan Hankins’ Suicide; Want Sorority Held Responsible

CHICAGO (CBS) — The mother of a former Northwestern University student is suing the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority, which she blames for her daughter’s suicide. Jordan Hankins, 19, died in January 2017. The lawsuit against the sorority alleges that hazing “caused her severe anxiety and depression,” which led Hankins to take her own life. Alpha Kappa Alpha was suspended from Northwestern’s campus in May 2017. The sorority tells CBS News it was deeply saddened by Hankins’ death, saying it has a zero-tolerance policy for hazing. Still, Hankins’ parents believe the sorority should be held responsible for their daughter’s death.
jordan Parents Claim Hazing Led To Jordan Hankins Suicide; Want Sorority Held Responsible

Jordan Hankins. (Courtesy of Northwestern University)

“She had a smile that would brighten up a room if you were feeling low or feeling down,” mother Felicia Hankins told CBS News correspondent Jericka Duncan. “Jordan just had this way of making you forget.” From a young age, Hankins had a passion for helping others and a gift when it came to playing sports. She won a full ride to Northwestern University on a basketball scholarship. Her sophomore year, she told her parents she wanted to join a sorority as a way to serve others. “Did hazing even cross your mind?” Duncan asked. “When she first told me that she had an interest, I think most importantly, my concerns were that they were genuine in their mission,” Felicia said. Hankins’ mother was on hand to watch the ceremony in which her daughter became an official member of Alpha Kappa Alpha. Felicia said she felt “a sense of pride, a sense of relief, you know, because the process was over.” But just seven weeks later, the 19-year-old took her own life in her dorm room. “I couldn’t reach her, so that was my concern,” Felicia said. “So then I just started trying to call continuously – no answer, no answer. And so ultimately, she was found the next day.” “Even if you are part of a sorority or fraternity… it can happen to your family. It can happen and it did,” father Walter Hankins said. In a lawsuit against the sorority and nine members, Hankins’ mother alleges that during post-initiation pledging, her daughter “was subjected to physical abuse including paddling… financial exploitation… sleep deprivation… and other forms of hazing intended to humiliate and demean her.” The court documents say “the hazing was triggering her PTSD, causing severe anxiety and depression and that she was having suicidal thoughts.” According to the lawsuit, she expressed that to her sorority sisters. It’s unclear what her PTSD stemmed from. “You believe that if the sorority hadn’t hazed, Jordan Hankins would still be alive today?” Duncan asked the Hankins’ family attorney. “That is what’s alleged in the lawsuit, yes,” attorney Brandon Vaughn said. “She sounded the alarm that the initiation practices that they were subjecting her to were causing harm and they didn’t do anything about it.” “She told sorority members, ‘I’m feeling suicidal.’ Did she ever express that to any family and friends?” Duncan asked. “I’m not going to comment on that,” Vaughn said. Tom Kline, who represents the family of Timothy Piazza, the Penn State sophomore who died in 2017 after a hazing ritual involving heavy drinking, said, “It’s a dirty secret in America that the problem is pervasive and extensive in sorority life just as it is in fraternity life.” “The unique challenge in the case, of course for a lawyer, is linking the suicide to the actual hazing. But it does not take a quantum leap of imagination to understand that a young person who is deprived and subjected to physical hazing turns on herself,” Kline said. Two years after their daughter’s death, Felicia and Walter said it’s the happy memories with Hankins that keep them strong – and fighting for change. “It’s important that I speak out whether it was the first day after she passed away or today… so that hopefully someone else won’t suffer the same fate,” Felicia said. Alpha Kappa Alpha tells CBS News it consistently educates members about hazing and the repercussions, including suspension and expulsion. They declined to comment further on the matter, citing the sensitive nature of Hankins’ death.

Lawsuit Blames Sorority In Northwestern Athlete’s Death

(AP) — The mother of a player on the Northwestern University women’s basketball team who died in 2017 has sued a sorority claiming hazing by its members led to her daughter’s suicide. Felicia Hankins says the hazing of Jordan Hankins by members of the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority caused severe anxiety and depression and led to her death in January 2017. The lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Chicago also names the Gamma Chi undergraduate chapter of the sorority at Northwestern, the Delta Chi Omega graduate chapter of the sorority and sorority executives. The lawsuit contends Jordan Hankins was “subjected to physical abuse including paddling, verbal abuse, mental abuse, financial exploitation, sleep deprivation, items being thrown and dumped on her, and other forms of hazing intended to humiliate and demean her.” Officials with Chicago-based Alpha Kappa Alpha couldn’t be reached for comment. Hankins was recruited out of Lawrence North High School in Indianapolis. Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Retired CPD Officer Speaks Out About Department’s High Suicide Rate and Mental Health

CHICAGO (CBS) — As the Chicago Police Department mourns another officer who took his life, a reitred CPD officer with more than 20 years on the force is speaking candidly about mental health and the high suicide rate within the department.

Retired Officer Ron Rufo fought back tears at times while talking about the problems officers face and the trouble some of them have seeking counseling.

Retired CPD Officer Speaks Out On Suicide Retired CPD Officer Speaks Out About Departments High Suicide Rate and Mental Health

He thinks the department needs to find a way to make them all understand it’s OK to ask for help.

“I get emotional with this,” he said.

It’s hard for retired Rufo to talk about some of the officers he counseled as a CPD peer support team member for more than two decades. All of them made a call that likely saved their lives.

“Reaching out for help and somebody to help them with their issues they may have,” Rufo said.

But what weighs on Rufo the most is the officers who don’t reach out and end up taking their lives.

“They’ve lost all hope not seeing that light at the end of the tunnel,” he said. “We have over 300 peer support team members but rarely do we get called out as much as we should, that stigma of being a tough person, being strong, and never being the weak link. Would you want to work with a partner that seeking counseling?”

Rufo even wrote the book “Police Suicide: Is Police Culture Killing Our Officers?”

“I just felt like there was that elephant in the room, nobody wanted to talk about it,” he said.

Rufo says for some officers the long hours, pressures and demands of the job combined with what they see and do on a daily basis can be too much to process.

“You got a lot of cameras on you,” he said. “You’ve got a lot more people judging you with everything that you do. It’s difficult because a lot of officers keep their emotions to themselves. They don’t share.”

And Rufo says sometimes that can lead to relationship issues and other problems, which become overwhelming. Add to that easy access to a firearm, and it can be a deadly combination.

“A lot of it may have to do with drinking as well,” he said. “Sometimes alcohol might be involved, which is a depressant, and then you have your weapon on your side. It’s so easy. It’s so quick it takes its toll right then and there.”

With five officer suicides in 2018 and another on new year’s day this year, Rufo hopes the department will step up to help those who might find themselves in similar situations.

“We need to have more classes about emotional wellness,” he said.

Until that happens, Rufo has a simple, but powerful message for all officers: “It’s OK to get help. It really is.”

Rufo also wants officers to remember they can seek that help anonymously. Currently CPD has five counselors, but a spokesperson says they plan to add five more soon. That’s in addition to members of the clergy that officers can also reach out to.



2 Officers Die In Police Station Parking Lot, Two Days Apart

CHICAGO (CBS) — Chicago Police are mourning the loss of an officer that unexpectedly died in her squad car.

Fellow officers paid their respects while a procession took the body to the medical examiner’s office.

The officer was assigned to the female lock-up in the 5th district.

CPD says she passed out in the station parking lot before she was pronounced dead at Trinity Hospital Tuesday morning.

This is the second time tragedy has struck the Chicago Police Station’s 5th district this week. Two days ago, an officer committed suicide while sitting in his vehicle in the station’s parking lot.

CBS 2’s Jim Williams reports the 5th district is hosting a community party Tuesday night, to bring cheer to the officers after what they’ve been through this week.

Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said, “They are hurting. It’s my job, as the leader of this organization, to encourage them, support them, and give them what they need to get through difficult times like this.”

A Justice Department report found that Chicago has one of the highest rates of suicides among police officers in the country.

“I really didn’t want to live anymore,” recalled Kimberly Marshall, saying she seriously considered taking her own life.

In 1994, four years into her career as a Chicago Police Officer, Kimberly Marshall, suffering from depression, considered suicide. She received treatment and went onto 20 years on the job, along the way, helping other officers, including one friend.

“She was in her garage with her car running and actually told me she had a revolver to her head,” Marshall said. “She was going to kill herself.”

Marshall said they talked for three hours and today that friend is still alive.

The police department released a video last year, urging officers to get help for mental illness.

Johnson says in terms of services, the department is light years ahead of where it was when he became an officer 30-years-ago, in terms of offering help for mental illness, more consolers, peer support, and chaplain.

Johnson said, “If you know of someone in distress or you’re in distress yourself, you’re not alone.”

“It’s not the end of the world. There’s help and people love you and want to help you,” said Marshall.

Man Kills Himself After Confrontation With Police

CHICAGO (CBS) — A barricade situation came to an end when police say a man took his own life after being shot by an officer. CBS 2’s Vi Nguyen has the latest on the investigation. Police spent more than ten hours at the scene near 95th and Commercial after receiving a call early Friday morning for a man with a gun. Authorities said believe the 24-year-old man got into an argument with family members inside a home and fired shots before making his way to the garage. “SWAT responded and the situation unfolded over the course of several hours,” said Chicago police sergeant Rocco Alioto. Officers tried to get the man to surrender peacefully, but police say things came to a tragic end. “Shortly after 2:00 a.m. there was an armed confrontation and officers discharged their weapons striking the offender wounding him in the lower body. Tragically, the offender was able to take his own life using his weapon.” Some people living in the neighborhood saw the police activity. A man asked CBS 2 not to show his face on camera. “This one was something out of a scene from a movie because I’ve never seen so much police presence as far as SWAT teams,” said the man. Others streamed the incident on Facebook Live where you can hear police talking to the suspect. The Civilian Office of Police Accountability is investigating this case. Police say the man’s gun was recovered at the scene. The officers involved have been placed on administrative duties for 30 days. The medical examiner will determine the man’s cause and manner of death.

Man Kills Himself After Being Shot By Police

CHICAGO (CBS) — A barricade situation ends with a man taking his own life after he was shot by Chicago police. CBS 2’s Vi Nguyen has the story. The suspect was a 24-year-old and he was shot in what police are calling an armed encounter. Authorities say someone called 911 Friday night to report a man with a gun and shots fired. It happened in the 9400 block of Escanba. Officers in the 4th District responded to the scene and called for the SWAT team. Police believe it started when the man got into some type of argument or dispute with family members. He initially fired shots from inside a house before making his way to the garage. Officers got there to set up a perimeter and tried to negotiate with the suspect peacefully. Police say the situation unfolded over the course of several hours. The Civilian Office of Police Accountability, or COPA, is now investigating. The officer involved has been placed on administrative duties. Police said they are still in the early stages of the investigation and couldn’t say whether officers had been called to the home before. Everyone inside the home made it out safely and no one else was injured.