A tragic incident in the heart of Ontario has brought the attention of the nation to a somber fact. The City of Hamilton mourns Officer Greg Mills’ loss, who was a respected parent in the Hamilton Police Service as well as the wider network. The death of Officer Greg Mills, who is believed to have been the result of a suicide due to undiagnosed mental problems, highlights a grave problem within Canada’s law-enforcement: an increasing number of police officers committing suicide.
Hamilton’s communities remember Officer Mills for more than his badge and uniform. He was a shining example of dedication, commitment and integrity. Mills was a man of great strength, but he struggled with deep inner issues. Too many officers are silently battling this battle.
This is a shocking fact: more Canadian police officers commit suicide than are killed in the course of their duties. What causes such tragic outcomes?
The Tumultuous World of Policing
Police officers face situations every day that are beyond the comprehension of most people. Their job exposes them daily to traumatizing experiences, from violent altercations and heartbreaking scenes of loss to violent altercations. These incidents can accumulate over time and lead to post-traumatic reactions.
The inherent nature of the police job can also be a breeding grounds for burnout. Constant stress combined with unpredictable events and long hours can be draining. The culture of law enforcement, where stoicism and a lack of emotion are valued, can make it difficult to seek help.
The loss of Officer Mills was a sad event, but it also serves as a wake-up call. Our law enforcement officials’ intellectual health must not be a secondary concern. Law enforcement should provide comprehensive care that includes prevention, intervention and ongoing support.
Officers like Mills have made immense sacrifices and dedication. We owe them as a society to recognize the depths of their struggles and provide the necessary resources and guidance. Not only should we strive to protect them; we should also strive to honor and ensure the welfare of those who protect our communities.