Widow of police officer who died by suicide fights to get his name on memorial wall
Should the names of Toronto police officers who committed suicide be included on a wall alongside their colleagues who died in the line of duty?
The Ontario Human Rights Commission has filed a claim to the province's Human Rights Tribunal to have names of officers who killed themselves added to the wall. The claim argues that excluding those who died by suicide is discriminatory and stigmatises officers who suffered from mental illness.
Currently officers who commit suicide are not named alongside their colleagues on the Memorial Wall at the Toronto Police College or on the Honour Roll wall at Toronto police headquarters.
Heidi Rogers's husband Sgt. Richard Rogers killed himself in July 2014, after grappling with mental illness for years. She's part of the human rights claim.
In an interview on Metro Morning Friday Rogers said her husband, a 22-year veteran of the force, deserves the honour because the illness that contributed to his death was directly related to his job.
"He was always fair," she said. "He was always willing to listen to both sides. He was very compassionate. "
Sgt. Rogers was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and anxiety, something Heidi Rogers said he felt compelled to hide. Heidi Rogers said her husband was belittled when he asked for help.
"You cannot come forward and say you have any sort of mental illness because then the whole stigmatization starts …. You're ostracized."
Rogers said not all officers whose names are on the wall died in the line of duty at the hands of others. She said she's been unable to find a list of rules for adding names to the wall.
"There are people on the wall who simply had a heart attack," she said. "There are people on the wall who were not even on duty when they died in the car accident. Some of them are not related to responding to any call, they're just accidents.
"Why should someone who has a heart attack — a physical ailment — be any different somebody who has a mental ailment, both job-related?"
The widows of some police officers have said they will demand the names of their husbands be removed from the wall if Sgt. Rogers name is added to it.
"That's shocking," said Rogers, who argues that adding her husband's name takes nothing away from the officers whose names are enshrined there.
She said allowing her husband's name on the wall "would acknowledge that this was a work-related incident."
The Toronto Police Service declined the CBC's request for comment on this issue, saying they don't want to speak about a case before the tribunal.