Staying Visible, Staying Connected for Life: Report of the Expert Panel on Police Officer Deaths by Suicide [2019-09]

During 2018, nine deaths by suicide occurred among serving and retired police officers in the province of Ontario. This number was thought to be unprecedented*. Soon after the year ended, the Office of the Chief Coroner initiated an expert panel review process. The eight-member panel began its work in June 2019. The experts on the panel understood that world research on suicide prevention has demonstrated that any specific death by suicide is difficult to predict or prevent, given that the known risk indicators for suicide also exist in large numbers of people who never attempt or die by suicide. Despite this, however, there are a number of evidence-based risk indicators for suicide, which when taken together, provide a list of factors known to be present in the majority of cases of completed suicide. Therefore, these points of risk can be used as potential targets for intervention when dealing with a vulnerable individual, and for the panel’s purpose, these points of risk could serve as a method for organizing and understanding the information obtained on the nine deceased police officers. These risk indicators and potential targets for intervention to prevent suicide are described in Part One of our report.