Blue Line

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Finding a way to honour the officers lost to suicide

July 5, 2023  By Bruce Forsyth

Photo credit: Dolores Harvey / Adobe Stock

On May 7, police and peace officers from Ontario, Quebec and even New York City, were at Queen’s Park to honour Ontario police officers who lost their lives in the line of duty. Officers who have been killed in the past several months, and one historical death, were honoured at this years’ service.

Every September, Ottawa hosts the Canadian Police and Peace Officer Memorial ceremony.

Sadly, neither of the monuments or ceremonies honour officers who have taken their own lives, as eligibility for inclusion on the memorial is restricted to officers who “… died as a result of an external influence”, and the deceased officer “… must have been on duty at the time of death, or if off duty, acting in the capacity of a peace officer or the circumstances leading to the death must have been brought about because of the officer’s official status.”

This criterion specifically excludes officers who have taken their own lives. The term “On-Duty Death” can be extended to officers who die of a physical illness, like cancer, if the death can be linked to their on-duty actions; we see this honour accorded to firefighter deaths all the time. An officer who dies by suicide, related to a mental health injury incurred during the course of their duties, is not extended the same honour.


Canada Beyond the Blue … is currently advocating for the establishment of a permanent, physical monument to officially memorialize police officers who have died by suicide.

In 2019, six police officers took their own lives in Canada. Two of those officers, Toronto Police Constable Vadym Martsenyuk and Ottawa Police Detective Thomas Roberts, took their lives one day apart, just days away from the national ceremony that year. While hundreds of police and peace officers from across Canada and other countries were standing solemnly in front of Centre Block to honour all the officers who had died in the line of duty, not even a cursory mention was made of either person at the ceremony.

In October 2021, the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) dedicated a monument outside their headquarters in Orillia to officers, “… whose deaths were related to the line of duty, rather than (in) the line of duty.” This monument came out of an inquiry ordered by then-OPP Commissioner Vince Hawks in the fall of 2018, into the suicides of OPP officers. I was fortunate enough to be invited to take part in the roundtable discussions that made up the body of the internal report, issued in the summer of 2019.

One important thing I’d like to mention is Canada Beyond the Blue, which is an organization who is currently advocating for the establishment of a permanent, physical monument to officially memorialize police officers who have died by suicide—something that could easily be expanded to include all peace officers. As their website states, “Canada Beyond The Blue Police Suicide Memorial (Ontario) which will record names on a separate wall. As of now, this is the most respectful way to honour all our officers who have died.”

Further, the monument will go a long way to addressing “The isolation and shame that is endured by these bereaved families is deepened when they lose the opportunity to see their police member forever memorialized.”

Bruce Forsyth, CD, is a former member of law enforcement and a PSTD survivor. He runs

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