OPP Association President Rob Stinson and members of OPP joined Simcoe County Suicide Awareness Council for a bench and tree dedication on Friday September 10, 2021 to mark World Suicide Awareness Day.

“Life Promotion” and “Creating Hope Through Action” was the theme today as family survivors, community advocates and OPP members gathered at a bench and tree dedication ceremony in Gravenhurst, Ontario for World Suicide Prevention Day.

The event was hosted by the Simcoe County Suicide Awareness Council. OPP Association President Rob Stinson attended the dedication ceremony, made possible in part by a generous donation from Provincial Constable Shawn Evans of the Nottawasaga OPP Detachment.

Bracebridge Detachment Commander Inspector Michael Burton, Heidi Lorenz, Deputy Mayor of the Town of Gravenhurst, and Provincial Constable Samantha Bigley, Media Officer for the Bracebridge OPP Detachment also provided remarks.

For President Stinson, the event was impactful on a personal level. He had personally assisted with two of the families present who had lost loved ones to suicide as part of his policing duties prior to becoming President of the OPP Association.

Since 1989, forty active and retired members of the Ontario Provincial Police have died by suicide. This number includes thirty-eight uniform members and two civilian members. Twenty-five were active members and fourteen were retired.

“It is important to recognize all citizens who have died by suicide. Trauma is not limited to police, military and first responders. The issue of suicide affects all of us.” Rob Stinson said.

Stinson further stated “I wish to acknowledge all of our OPP police officers, civilian members and retirees who have died by suicide. We acknowledge that they did valuable and often unacknowledged heroic work. Much of that work led to them experiencing trauma and was a contributing factor in their untimely deaths. I would like to acknowledge the survivors and your pain that you endure daily. There is hope. A big part of that hope is the work of dedicated community members such as yourselves, peer support and professionals who work tirelessly every day to help people in crisis. We are grateful for their service.”

Our OPP Association is proud of the Encompas Mental Health Wellness Program launched in 2019. The program is a 24/7 mental health support to help our OPP members with maintaining their mental health by connecting our eligible members and their families to professional counsellors. To date the use of the program numbers in the thousands.

The OPP Healthy Workplace Team also offers professional psychologists and peer support networks for our members that we are very grateful for. Together the OPP and the OPP Association want to keep breaking down that stigma and encouraging our members to seek help before we have tragic situations.

“Be The Light” is the call to action of World Suicide Prevention Day 2021. Organizers of the event asked that all in attendance as well as the general public to light a candle and place it near a window at 8pm on September 10th. Throughout the world candles will shine as a beacon of hope. Light a candle to show your support for suicide prevention, to remember someone who has died by suicide, and to honour those lives have been impacted by suicide.

For OPP members who would like to reach out for mental health assistance please call the Encompas Mental Health Wellness Program 24/7 at 1-866-794-9117 or online at EncompasCare.ca.

For members of the public, the Ontario chapter of the Canadian Mental Health Association have a number of resources online on their website Ontario.CMHA.ca.

Light a candle for suicide prevention