RCMP member takes own life near Parliament Hill
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Mar 17, 2016  |  Vote 0    0

RCMP member takes own life near Parliament Hill

Site of suicide is just a half a block from prime minister's office in Ottawa’s Langevin Block


OTTAWA—The suicide of an RCMP member at a detachment near Parliament Hill Thursday morning brought an outpouring of sympathy from policing colleagues.

Neither the RCMP nor the Ottawa police in charge of investigating the incident would publicly identify the man.

Three policing sources said the RCMP member Thursday died of a self-inflicted gunshot. Ottawa police were called at 8:55 a.m. to an office just off Parliament Hill used by the mobile policing patrol unit known as the general duty protective policing unit, or GDPP. The RCMP officer had no vital signs when he was transported by ambulance to hospital, where he was later pronounced dead.

In a statement to RCMP National Division, Assistant Commissioner Gilles Michaud confirmed the death to fellow employees.

“I must regretfully advise that this involved one of our GDPP members. All indications are that this did not occur in the performance of his duties. But, unfortunately, he passed away at the hospital,” Michaud said. “Please join me in thoughts and prayers for our member and his family.”

Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale later issued a statement expressing condolences and said he spoke to RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson, who said the force was “providing full support to the family, and also to RCMP personnel as they mourn the tragic loss of their colleague.”

The RCMP office on Metcalfe Street is just a half a block from the Prime Minister’s Office at the Langevin Block, and also houses Federal Court offices. It is one of several locales used by Mounties in charge of security on Parliament Hill. The Ottawa police has jurisdiction off Parliament Hill.

Ottawa Police Chief Charles Bordeleau, who went to the location, did not speak to reporters. Later, Const. Marc Soucy said there would be no public confirmation of the man’s identity, citing police policy on suicides and privacy reasons.

The Ottawa Police Association tweeted support for “our RCMP brothers and sisters” as well as support for its own Ottawa police members who responded to the call.

Brian Sauvé, a co-chair of the fledgling National Police Federation seeking to unionize RCMP members, also expressed condolences “to the co-workers the family, children of the fallen member.” Although Sauvé said the RCMP has made steps to encourage members to seek help, there remains a stigma around mental health issues, and said “our employer needs to do more in terms of confidential outreach and the ability to access services in a timely manner.”

“The force does not have a clear picture of the prevalence of suicide within its ranks or within its retired ranks, and we are strong proponents of psychological post-mortems for every incident,” he said. “Even if they can’t come up with a diagnosis, they can tell us where we need to focus our resources to provide better support for our employees, our members and our families.”

Two years ago, the RCMP said it would step up its efforts to encourage troubled members to get help. But the numbers of those disabled on the job are increasing.

An internal RCMP audit two years ago said the federal government spent $118 million to compensate members injured or killed on the job, and forecast spending would triple over the next 15 years to reach $382 million.

The RCMP’s report on planned spending for 2016-17 said the number has already hit about $190 million.

Post-traumatic stress disorder or operational stress injuries are among the top three reasons Mounties claimed disability benefits.

Before this incident, four police officers had already died by suicide in Canada this year, according to the Tema Conter Memorial Trust.

It’s a support network for people with PTSD that was founded by a former paramedic who suffered from the disorder after responding to the 1988 murder of Tema Conter in Toronto.

There were at least 11 cases of suicide among police officers in 2015 in Canada and 14 in 2014, according to the network.

After the suicides of two Toronto police officers within four months in 2014, then-police board chair Alok Mukherjee requested a “comprehensive” examination of police suicides.

Results were not made public because of privacy concerns.

With files from The Canadian Press

Toronto Star

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