Toronto Beyond the Blue call for memorial for officers who died by suicide
By Blue Line Staff
By Blue Line Staff
May 4, 2021 – Canada Beyond the Blue is a peer-led, non-profit organization with chapters across Canada dedicated to “strengthening and supporting” families of law enforcement officers. Since their launch in 2017, Toronto Beyond the Blue (TBTB) has been working to implement a sustainable, cultural shift in the areas of mental health/well-being for Toronto officers and their families.
Their latest project is the creation of a permanent memorial on the grounds of the provincial legislature to recognize officers who have died by suicide. The Heroes in Life Memorial would be a separate momentum than the memorial in Queen’s Park that honours officers who died in the line of duty.
Experts and unions say more officers die by suicide than in the line of duty. The force confirmed that three Toronto police officers died by suicide over the past year. The last time a Toronto officer died in the line of duty was in 2013.
Dilnaz Garda is the president of TBTB. She said their efforts to construct a memorial for officers who died by suicide began more than two years ago.
“One thing that’s come out of the pandemic is that everyone’s mental health has suffered, which has really expedited the collective understanding of mental health and the need for more mental health support,” said Garda. “There’s still a stigma around mental health but it’s provided the opportunity to spread awareness.”
She noted that, while they still waiting for a response from various political leaders, the movement has received the support of police leaders and unions.
Among them is Jason Tomlinson, president of Ontario Police Memorial Foundation, who told the Canadian Press the construction of a new memorial is a matter of when, not if.
“It’s time,” he said. “I think by having the Heroes in Life Memorial and by continuously raising mental health awareness, we are going to be better prepared to deal with suicide, prevent it from happening and it won’t be this dark secret.”
Garda said there are currently 20 families who have voiced interested and want their loved ones’ names on the memorial.
Garda/TBTB was also featured on the September 2020 edition of Blue Line, The Podcast. To listen to the full episode, visit blueline.ca/podcast.