- Oct 15, 2021
OPP Association Grateful For OPP Suicide Memorial Honouring OPP Members
OPP Suicide Memorial at OPP General Headquarters in Orillia, Ontario, Canada
The OPP Association is grateful that the Ontario Provincial Police has built the first memorial in Canada dedicated to our members who have died by suicide. OPPA President Rob Stinson and former OPPA Director Harold Coffin were honoured to be in attendance at the official unveiling in August, 2021 at OPP General Headquarters in Orillia.
ince 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. 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.” stated OPPA President Rob Stinson.
Harold had been involved on behalf of the OPPA, prior to his retirement, on the organizing committee to build the Suicide Memorial. The committee was led by OPP Commissioner Carrique. Harold was contacted for this story and stated he was honoured to be a small part of getting this done for the families. Harold added that it was very nice to get families of line of police duty deaths together with families who lost their loved ones to suicide, and come to an understanding on how to honour both.
“On the day of the unveiling, it was especially touching for us to be there with Sarah Routhier and Dilnaz Garda, both who have tirelessly advocated to honour and remember our members who died “because of the line of duty”, said Coffin.
After the suicide deaths of Sarah’s husband OPP Sergeant Sylvain Routhier, and Dilnaz’s brother, Toronto Police Service Constable Darius Garda, both women have been tireless advocates for the creation of the OPP Suicide Memorial, and encouraging other organizations to do the same.
The OPP Association is proud of the Encompas Mental Health Wellness Program launched in 2019, a collaborative effort led by then OPPA President Rob Jamieson. 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 is 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.”
Thank you to everyone who has contributed to this memorial.
The below video released by the OPP explains the planning and construction of the new Memorial.
For reference, the following is the official news release issued by the OPP on Friday October 15, 2021.
OPP BUILDS FIRST MEMORIAL IN CANADA DEDICATED TO OFFICERS WHO HAVE DIED BY SUICIDE
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. 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.” – OPP Commissioner Thomas Carrique
“Police personnel are among the professionals most likely to be exposed to occupational stress situations, all while protecting our communities. 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. 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.” – Solicitor General Sylvia Jones
“Over the past few years, I’ve 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. 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.” – Associate Minister of Mental Health and Addictions Michael Tibollo
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.