'This is part of our healing': Fellowship honours OPP officer who died by suicide
KITCHENER -- Ontario Provincial Police officer Paul Horne died by suicide three years ago, and now a new fellowship named in his honour will help others living with trauma.
“For our family, this is part of our healing,” said Paul’s brother, Rob Horne.
Gone but never forgotten, the Horne family plans to continue to honour Paul’s legacy.
“He was a kind but very determined person, and he would want us to do anything to help other people who were in his situation,” Rob added.
Since his brother died by suicide in 2018, Rob has been fighting for supports for first responders.
“We’ve announced a new fellowship in my brother's memory and it will be used to support directly both research and treatment for people suffering,” Rob explained.
On Thursday, the Horne family and the Homewood Research Institute (HRI) in Guelph announced the Paul Horne Memorial Fellowship aimed at advancing research to help first responders, including health-care professionals, living with post-traumatic stress injuries (PTSI).
“Part of this program will be to understand the impacts of stress and trauma on first responders, including what's happening right now,” said Dr. Margaret McKinnon, HRI Research Chair in Mental Health and Trauma.
They're planning to hire four fellows to work alongside Dr. McKinnon, all of which is funded by donations.
“We know that across Canada we lack the critical number of clinicians scientists needed to do this work. We know that about two in five first responders suffer with mental health difficulties,” she explained.
Detective Const. Horne was one of three OPP officers who died by suicide over a three-week period.
The OPP launched an internal review following the deaths and implemented a series of recommendations, including a healthy workplace team that offers confidential support to OPP members, their families and retirees.
“Health is not just about treating illness after the fact. Infusing health and wellness involves an overhaul of the system and changes throughout the culture. The goal of the OPP’s Healthy Workplace Team is to offer support at all levels and to make help easy to find and access,” said Dr. Vivien Lee, Commander, Healthy Workplace Team, Chief Psychologist, Ontario Provincial Police in a statement to CTV News.
In 2019, another three officers died by suicide, while last year there were no reported suicide deaths among officers.
“The only thing I want back is my brother, that's not going to happen. so what we'll do is put all of our energy to the goodness of other people,” said Rob.
The Ontario Provincial Police Association also launched the Encompas Mental Health Wellness program and website in March 2020, which connects its members and retirees to a network for mental health wellness care and support.