An Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) constable at a detachment in Ottawa has taken his own life, the 13th reported suicide of an active or retired member of the police force since 2012.
Interim commissioner Gary Couture sent a memo to all members of the OPP on March 20 informing them of the death.
“I encourage members to connect with each other and seek the social supports and resources that work for you during this difficult time, and any time you need support,” Couture wrote.
The name of the constable has not been publicly released, but CBC News has learned he worked at the Kanata detachment in Ottawa’s west end.
Staff Sgt. Carole Dionne, the OPP’s provincial media relations co-ordinator, confirmed that a member had died, but couldn’t provide any further details.
Ontario’s chief coroner is set to look into police suicides starting this spring after nine police officers from various forces across the province took their lives in 2018.
In August 2018 Vince Hawkes, the OPP commissioner at the time, launched an internal review of suicides within the provincial police service.
“Clearly we need to do more,” Hawkes said at the time. “There are serious gaps and barriers that require further review and examination.”
Hawkes has since retired and it’s unclear what stage that internal review is at now.
In March CBC’s The Fifth Estate looked into suicides at the OPP and spoke to the acting commissioner and head of the OPP’s wellness unit.
Police association concerned
Ontario Provincial Police Association president Rob Jamieson said the labour group is very concerned about suicides on the force.
“We have expressed our concern for quite some time. We have called out the fact that this is a real issue, not only affecting our members of law enforcement, such as our uniform and civilian members, but it cuts across the wider first responder community as well,” Jamieson said.
“We recognize that stigma, still to this day, prevents some of our members from seeking the help that they need.”
The police association said it is available to provide support not only to its members, but also to the family of the police officer who died recently.
Need help? Here are some mental health resources in the National Capital Region:
- Association québécoise de prévention du suicide: 1-866-APPELLE (1-866-277-3553)
- Ottawa Suicide Prevention: 613-238-3311