Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office Registers Record Number of Gun-Related Homicides in 2021

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 Office sees second highest overall caseload in its history

The Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office (MEO) confirmed 1,002 gun-related homicides in 2021, breaking the previous record of 881 set in 2020. The MEO released preliminary case data for 2021 today.

The Office handled a total of 1,087 homicides in 2021, 836 in the City of Chicago. That’s the first time the MEO has seen more than 1,000 homicides since 1994. Blacks were the victims of 80% of homicides and Latinos accounted for more than 14% of homicide deaths. Males accounted for 88% of homicide deaths. Eighty-six homicide deaths were under 18; 12 were under the age of 10.

Year

All Homicides

Gun-Related Homicides

2021

1,087*

1,002*

2020

986

881

2019

675

588

2018

724

598

2017

840

742

*Preliminary data

The MEO handled 12,618 cases in 2021, the second highest number of cases the Office has handled in its history. The County handled a record 16,047 cases in 2020. Before the pandemic began, the Office saw approximately 6,200 deaths in an average year. Nearly 42% of all cases in 2021 were African American and just over 15% Latino.

The County’s 4,497 COVID-19 infection deaths accounted for more than a third of the 2021 caseload.

Race/Ethnicity

% of 2021 COVID-19 Cases

White (non-Latino)

43%

Black

31%

Latino

19%

Asian

3.6%

Native American

< 1%

Other/Unknown

< 1%

The County is also on pace to beat 2020’s record for opioid overdose deaths. While the Office still awaits the results of hundreds of toxicology tests, it has already confirmed 1,488 opioid overdose deaths for 2021. The MEO anticipates that approximately 600 – 700 of its pending cases will be due to opioid toxicity, putting the final number for 2021 over 2,000.

Year

Opioid Overdose Deaths

2021

1,488*

2020

1,840

2019

1,295

2018

1,138

2017

1,167

2016

1,081

2015

647

*Preliminary data

Overall suicide rates in Cook County have remained consistent. Males continue to make up the majority of suicide deaths.

Year

Total Suicides

Black

Latino

White

Asian

Other

Male/Female

2021

482*

19%

14%

59%

5.5%

2.5%

77%/23%

2020

453

22%

13%

58%

5%

< 2%

79%/21%

2019

479

12%

16%

66%

6%

< 1%

76%/24%

*Preliminary data

To access additional data from the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office, please visit the case archive.

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