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OPP dedicates monument to officers lost to suicide

October 2021

On 15 October 2021, the Ontario Provincial Police dedicated a monument outside their headquarters in Orillia, dedicated to officers who lost their lives to job-related suicide, “…whose deaths were related to the line of duty, rather than (in) the line of duty.”

The outdoor monument consists of a memorial gazebo, with a round metal sculpture in the centre. The sculpture was designed by the families of OPP members who have died by suicide, and brought to reality by artist Shawn Donnan of Horizon Metalworks in Stirling, Ontario.

A plaque affixed to the sculpture reads:

“The OPP crest and peak cap represent the organization our members served and their families who supported them during their service.

The doves are a universal sign of hope.

The torch with many hands signifies people supporting one another.

The image of family is for those who are left behind. We must support them.

When you are strong, reach out for someone who is hurting. When they are strong, their hand will be there for you. This is symbolized by the linked hands.

The kneeling officer with wings is dedicated to all of our members who are currently suffering and for those who may suffer in the future.

This memorial stands as a physical reminder of those who have been lost and a symbol of support for those who remain.

Look after each other. 

Seek help.

Let there be no more.

This is a significant step to officially acknowledging that being a police officer can take a serious toll on a person’s mental health. Both the Ontario Police Memorial in Toronto and the Canadian Police and Peace Officers Memorial in Ottawa, which include the names of police and peace officers who have died in the line of duty, specifically exclude those who have died by suicide.

OPP Suicide Memorial

An additional monument is found inside the headquarters building, near the OPP Museum, with plaques displaying the names of OPP members who have died by suicide.

The submission form to have a name added to the memorial can be found at.

As the OPP has never tracked suicide deaths, it’s unknown how many officers have been lost to suicide since 1909, so this memorial will never be a complete list of all OPP members who have died by suicide. The protocols for the inclusion of a deceased officer’s name will be up to the family, friends or colleagues of the fallen officer to put forth their name. Some surviving family members, for their own reasons, may not want the fallen officer’s name included on the memorial wall.

Submissions can be made by downloading a submission form at 20211015_120508_5312.pdf (oppnews.ca) and submitted to OPPHealth@opp.ca. Information can also be obtained by calling 1-844-677-9409.

Toronto Police Memorial

Since 2017, Toronto Police has allowed the names of officers lost to suicide to be considered for their own memorial wall. This came about as a result of a ruling by the Ontario Human Rights Commission, which stated that it amounted to discrimination to exclude names of officers who died as a result of mental health injuries experienced in the line of duty.

The ruling came about through the efforts of Linda and Julie Adamson, widow and daughter of Staff-Sergeant Eddie Adamson, a retired Toronto Police Officer, who shot himself in 2005. Adamson had suffered from PTSD for 25 years, due to guilt he felt over the death of Toronto Constable Michael Sweet, wounded in a botched robbery-turned-hostage taking in a tavern on Queen Street in 1980. Adamson, then a Sergeant with the Emergency Task Force, had been ordered to stand-down by superiors, who preferred to negotiate a surrender with the hostage takers.

After waiting an agonizing 90 minutes, knowing Sweet was bleeding to death inside the tavern, Adamson decided to disobey those orders and led a rescue attempt. Unfortunately, it was too late for Michael Sweet The 30-year-old officer had lost too much blood, and died in hospital shortly afterwards. 

Adamson never forgave himself.

Sources: New OPP memorial for officers dying ‘due to duty’ – The Canadian, Ontario Provincial Police – News / Nouvelles (opp.ca), Toronto police memorial will now include officers lost to suicide – CityNews Toronto, New OPP memorial unveiled for officers who die ‘because of duty’ | Toronto Sun, Toronto police officers who die by suicide now eligible for memorial wall | Sooke News Mirror.

About the author

Bruce Forsyth

Bruce Forsyth served in the Royal Canadian Navy Reserve for 13 years (1987-2000). He served with units in Toronto, Hamilton & Windsor and worked or trained at CFB Esquimalt, CFB Halifax, CFB Petawawa, CFB Kingston, CFB Toronto, Camp Borden, The Burwash Training Area and LFCA Training Centre Meaford.

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