(Canadian OH&S News) — The death of a police officer who is believed to have taken his own life in the workplace has brought the issue of police suicides back into the spotlight.
Staff Sgt. Kalid Ghadban of the Ottawa Police Service (OPS) died shortly after 1 p.m. on Sept. 28, following an “incident” at police headquarters, OPS Chief Charles Bordeleau said in a media release. The 22-year veteran of the OPS suffered serious injuries in the alleged suicide attempt and was transported to hospital, where he was later pronounced dead, a police spokesperson confirmed. Ghadban had worked on patrol as a detective in the OPS’ major crime unit and was the staff sergeant of the street crime, break and enter and human trafficking units.
Ontario’s Special Investigations Unit — an arm’s length agency that investigates police reports involving death, serious injury or allegations of sexual assault — is probing the circumstances surrounding the 43-year-old’s death. Three investigators and one forensic investigator have been assigned to the case.
“We are heartbroken to have lost Kal so tragically and so young,” his family said in a statement. “He will be dearly missed by his wife, his three children and his entire family. The loss to our family will remain, but the outpouring of love we have received for Kal has been comforting.”
Ghadban’s death follows the suicides of four RCMP officers and retirees this year, including the death of 51-year-old Ken Barker, who investigated a beheading aboard a Greyhound bus in Manitoba in 2008. In the wake of the deaths, the RCMP announced in July that it had begun tracking officer suicides as part of its mental health strategy.
The RCMP — with the assistance of its group life insurance provider, Great-West Life — has counted a total of 31 serving or retired members who have taken their own lives since 2006. The collected data provided the quantity of the suicides, but not the causes. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) was believed to be a frequent cause, as were other mental health issues such as depression and anxiety.