ONTARIO PROVINCIAL POLICE
The Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) has completed construction of its new suicide memorial, located outside at the OPP General Headquarters (GHQ) in Orillia. The memorial is open to the public and can be accessed from the main parking lot at the front of GHQ.
With this memorial, the OPP is honouring the lives of its officers who have died by suicide. The memorial recognizes that, while these officers did not die in the line of duty, the difficulties they experienced leading to their deaths are often related to their duty as law enforcement members. This is recognized by the term "because of duty death," originally coined by Canada Beyond the Blue president, Dilnaz Garda.
With the memorial located outside, anyone can visit and do so quietly and with privacy. The memorial's location also stands as a reminder to all, of the organization's commitment to breaking down the barriers that prevent those struggling with their mental health from accessing the care and services they need to recover.
In addition to the outdoor memorial, the OPP will recognize its members who have died by suicide with a wall of engraved plaques displayed indoors at GHQ. Family, friends and colleagues can submit names to be added to the memorial wall. Upon receipt of a submission from someone other than a direct family member, best efforts will be made to follow-up with families through the submitter to ensure that the name being added will not cause hardship to any surviving family.
Historically, the OPP has not tracked suicide deaths and there is a limited record of how many OPP members have been lost to suicide since 1909. As well, some families, for their own reasons, may not want their family member's name included on the memorial wall.
This memorial will not be a complete list of all OPP members who have died by suicide and a name not appearing on the memorial does not minimize the loss of a member in any way.
These memorials are about OPP members who have lost their lives to suicide, and the acknowledgement of, and healing for, their families and friends.
"After speaking with families of officers who had died by suicide, it was evident that we needed a way to recognize and remember the significant contribution these officers made to our communities and our province," said OPP Commissioner Thomas Carrique.
"This memorial is a testament to our members' dedication to duty each and every day. It's a testament to those who tragically died by suicide, but served our organization, our communities and our province with pride, professionalism and honour," he explained.
Solicitor General Sylvia Jones says the provincial government has made mental health a priority.
"Police personnel are among the professionals most likely to be exposed to occupational stress situations, all while protecting our communities," said Jones. "They often put themselves in harm's way and experience incidents that most of us will never have to face.
"This memorial honours the members whose lives have been tragically lost and serves as a reminder of the importance of maintaining our mental health the same way we maintain our physical health," said Jones.
"Our government has made mental health a priority, and we will continue providing our heroes in blue with the mental health and well-being supports they need to recover from trauma and distress," she added.
Associate Minister of Mental Health and Addictions Michael Tibollo says he has had "the honour of meeting many dedicated women and men that put on a uniform to serve and protect the people of Ontario.
"We know that work-related complex trauma and PTSD affect our first responders every day, and we're constantly reminded of the difficulty of wearing a uniform when going to work," said Tibollo.
"This new memorial - the first of its kind in Canada - will be a much-needed and safe place for colleagues, friends and family to remember their loved ones. Our government stands shoulder-to-shoulder with our dedicated policing heroes, and we will always ensure that we prioritize their health and well-being," he said.
To submit a name for the suicide memorial wall, please download and complete the attached submission form. For more information about the OPP Suicide Memorial or the submission process, please call 1-844-677-9409 or email OPPHealth@opp.ca.
To read the OPP article and view the video commemoration of the planning and construction of the new outdoor memorial, visit opp.ca/news.