Jan 5, 2023 - News

Cook County homicides down, still outpacing pre-pandemic levels

Illustration of a graveyard with one giant tombstone

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Cook County homicides fell last year by more than 15% from 2021 — but they remain much higher than pre-pandemic levels, according to preliminary data from the Cook County Medical Examiner's Office (MEO).

Why it matters: The newly released data paints a complex picture of mortality that could shape the county's future policy and resource allocation.

By the numbers: The MEO, which investigates suicides, homicides, accidents and sudden or suspicious deaths, saw 10,443 cases last year.

  • That's down from 16,047 in 2021 and 12,612 in 2020, but still exceeds that office's 6,200 average caseload of pre-pandemic years.

Zoom in: Most Cook County homicides (740 of 927) occurred in Chicago, with others in Harvey (15), Dolton (11), Riverdale (9) and Maywood (8).

  • 76% of homicide victims were Black, and 18% were Latino.
  • 86% were male.
  • 88% involved a gun, and homicides among children rose 13%.

Separately, suicide rates have held steady over the past four years, with males consistently making up around 75% of the cases.

  • Rates among Black residents rose during the pandemic while falling slightly for white and Asian residents.

What's next: The MEO believes 2022 opioid deaths will surpass last year's total of 1,936. Hundreds of pending toxicology results are expected to push the current 1,599 figure past 2,000, officials say.

  • In the preliminary data, Black residents suffered the majority of opioid deaths.
  • And the 50-59 age group had the largest share of deaths.
  • So far, the youngest opioid overdose in 2022 was a 12-year-old-boy from Chicago.

Go deeper: Cook County Medical Examiner case archive


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