Three police suicides in three weeks. The Ontario Provincial Police are using that loss to try and break down barriers associated with suicide and mental illness.
Commissioner Vince Hawkes today announced a three-pronged approach to combating mental health stigma within the Provincial Police: enhance, examine, evaluate:
“Enhance – The OPP will build on its Mental Health Strategy, Our People, Our Communities. In 2014, the OPP Wellness Unit was created to respond to the ombudsman’s report regarding operational stress injuries affecting police officers. The development of the OPP Mental Health Strategy: Our People, Our Communities followed in 2015.
Examine – The OPP will be examining the barriers preventing our members, officers and civilians, from seeking assistance and support by conducting an internal review of member suicides and attempted suicides within the last five years. The review will be led by Detective Superintendent Ken Leppert to identify potential links and commonalities. The review will also examine potential gaps that may be addressed through training and programs.
Evaluate – A Mental Health Roundtable Assessment Team led by Chief Superintendents Chris Harkins and John Sullivan will be established to include internal OPP members, family members and external stakeholders and experts. A report on the findings and recommendations will be provided to a Commissioner’s Committee.
“We want everyone to feel that they can open up and ask for help. If you are or someone you know is struggling, I urge you to use one of our many support services, and if in crisis, get immediate help,” said Commissioner Hawkes. “No one should suffer in silence. Together, let’s break the silence.”