RCMP officer's wife speaks out about his suicide and the need to fight PTSD stigma

Retired RCMP officer Ken Barker with his former dog Axa.  Photo courtesy Shari Barker.

Retired RCMP officer Ken Barker with his former dog Axa. Photo courtesy Shari Barker.


Ken Barker was a retired RCMP officer who had suffered with PTSD for many years. A week ago, Mr. Barker, who was a police dog handler, killed himself at his home in Winnipeg. Thirteen first responders in Canada have taken their own lives in the past 10 weeks. And Mr. Barker's wife, Shari, says it's time for first responders to get the support and help they need.
"There needs to be a process in place where members are required to talk."
Shari Barker says her husband did seek help, but not in his early days as an officer. She feels it should be mandatory for all first responders to talk about their experiences rather than leaving it to individuals to seek help. 

"We hope to reduce the stigma amongst the rank and file... I think people need to buy in and hopefully this will help broaden the conversation."
Ms. Barker says her husband's PTSD was the result of a cumulation of events.

"Ken's PTSD began the first time he attended a motor vehicle crash, the first time he attended a murder scene, the first time he had to tell a parent that their child was dead."
She hopes speaking publicly will help other officers come forward so that they can stop "suffering in silence."

Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Submission Policy

Note: The CBC does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comments, you acknowledge that CBC has the right to reproduce, broadcast and publicize those comments or any part thereof in any manner whatsoever. Please note that comments are moderated and published according to our submission guidelines.