Three OPP officers die by suicide in past month
The commissioner of the Ontario Provincial Police is taking an unprecedented step and speaking out publicly after three officers died by suicide in the past month.
The force’s commissioner Vince Hawkes is promising more support for those struggling, noting that there is a lot of fear among officers struggling with mental illnesses.
Wellington County OPP officer Joshua De Bock was among the three officers that passed away.
His obituary says he passed away on August 20 at the age of 38. He left behind a wife and daughter.
His family told CTV Kitchener De Bock received numerous awards during his time with OPP and was going to be recognized for his bravery next month.
The other two officers that passed away are Sergeant Sylvain Routhier of Belleville and Detective-Inspector Paul Horne from Iroquois.
Hawkes says many officers are afraid that if people find out they are struggling it will impact their careers and what their colleagues think of them. The documentation that follows when someone comes forward with an illness can also be a point of concern for officers.
The commissioner is planning an internal review of member suicides and attempted suicides over the last five years.Three teams will also be doing roundtable discussions, as well as a revamp of their safeguard program, for those who working in specialized areas.
The commissioner says the force knows that stigma around mental health issues may prevent members from seeking help, but he is urging anyone who needs support to reach out.
“No one should suffer in silence, together let’s break this silence," said Hawkes at a press conference Thursday.
In the last 30 years, Hawkes says the OPP has documented 24 force members and nine retired members that died by suicide.