A new report recommends Ontario’s coroners start tracking first-responder suicides and that an oversight committee be formed to identify deficiencies in mental health services for this population.
These were among 14 recommendations made by The Expert Panel on Police Officer Deaths by Suicide in the wake of nine Ontario police officer suicides in 2018. The Toronto Star reports that number of deaths is believed to be unprecedented, but there’s no official data to confirm.
CMHA Ontario is recognized in the report for our efforts to reduce the stigma of mental health conditions.
As a leader in mental health, substance use and policing policy and programming, CMHA Ontario supports the expert panel’s review and recommendations. In particular, we support the recommendation to form an Ontario Police Members Mental Health Collaborative to serve as a standing body to guide a plan of action on this issue. CMHA Ontario is well positioned to support this collaborative, as we regularly convene policing partners on mental health issues, such as the recent release of the police-hospital transitions framework and toolkit.
CMHA Ontario is also pleased to see a recommendation to the Ministry of the Solicitor General to encourage more police services to adopt mobile crisis teams. A number of CMHA branches across the province are already involved in mobile crisis teams in their communities. In addition, we’re currently co-chairing a provincial committee with the Ministry of the Solicitor General, Ministry of Health, Ontario Provincial Police, Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police, municipal police services and other partners to develop a framework and toolkit to support the expansion of mobile crisis teams across Ontario.