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Death of on-duty OPP officer highlights mental toll on first responders

The death of an Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) officer Monday morning adds to a growing list of Ontario police officers who have died while on-duty in the past few months.

The officer has been identified as 35-year-old Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) Det. Const. Steven Tourangeau, who was killed in a collision between his unmarked police cruiser and a school bus.

A row of nine police officers could be seen standing in the middle of the road near the Oxford County crash site, saluting Tourangeau, who died in the double fatal crash earlier that day.

His death comes less than three weeks after OPP officer Sgt. Eric Mueller was killed in eastern Ontario.

For some, these deaths bring to the forefront the toll tragedies like this have on the mental health of officers.

“A death of one of their own is like a death in the family,” said psychotherapist Michelle Farrow.

Farrow is a registered psychotherapist who works with first responders, and she says when one of their own dies it brings on grief for anyone left behind.

“So that may include feelings of sadness, anger, disbelief, fear, along with the reality of the inherent risks of their job,” Farrow said.

In the face of these risks, Farrow says we're seeing increased reports of occupational stress, depression and anxiety for first responders.

She added that it seems more resources are becoming available.

“I'm finding that a lot of services have an in-house wellness program, as well as peer support programs, there's employee assistance programs that have mental health supports,” Farrow said.

Following Tourangeau’s death, police and first responders around the country shared their condolences online.

“Our thoughts and condolences go out to the family and friends of OPP Detective Constable Steven Tourangeau of the Perth County OPP Detachment and the civilian who passed away following a tragic collision earlier today,” Waterloo Regional Police Service said in a tweet.

Tourangeau was with the Perth County OPP detachment and assigned to the Huron-Perth community street crime unit.

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