Ex-Mountie Krista Carle, who helped bring to light abuse and harassment in RCMP, has died

Former RCMP officer Krista Carle, who spoke publicly about her difficult experiences with harassment within the force and helped others find accountability, has died.

Friends and colleagues stunned after learning former constable took her own life

Krista Carle came forward to CBC News after her friend Catherine Galliford went public about sexual harassment within the RCMP. In a subsequent letter to Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale, she listed 35 instances of harassment, sexual assault and bullying by co-workers and superiors. (CBC)

A woman who fought to bring attention to harassment within the RCMP has died.

Friends and colleagues confirmed that former constable Krista Carle took her own life on Friday. She was 53. 

Carle had been very active in the fight for accountability. She came forward to CBC News about her own experiences for the first time after her former troopmate Catherine Galliford went public about sexual harassment in November 2011.  

She was also public about her struggles with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and eventually left the RCMP after 19 years with a medical discharge.

Turning negatives into positives

In a letter to Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale in May 2016, Carle said she had endured 35 instances of harassment, sexual assault and bullying by co-workers and superiors. She served with the RCMP in Alberta.

Carle tried to restart her career in B.C. after settling a lawsuit in Alberta but she told Goodale "due to my PTSD I was unable to cope and eventually lost my marriage, my kids and my career." She settled on Vancouver Island.

Tori Cliffe met Carle during an investigation into assaults committed on them by a senior colleague in Alberta in 2004. 

"She turned all the negativity into something positive. She didn't let it beat her," Cliffe said. 

"She made and was making a huge difference for not just women in the RCMP for everybody. For making it a better work environment and ensuring that people were held accountable. That was her goal: accountability for the employees."

Janet Merlo, left, next to Catherine Galliford and Krista Carle, sixth from left, when they graduated from RCMP training college in 1991. (Janet Merlo/Submitted photo)

Carle trained as an RCMP officer in 1991. She graduated with Galliford and Janet Merlo, who was the lead plaintiff in a class-action lawsuit into gender-based harassment and sexual abuse within the RCMP.

That suit was settled by the federal government in 2016 for $100 million.

A new potential class-action lawsuit over bullying and harassment claims was filed against the RCMP last month claiming $1.1 billion in damages; its claims have not been proven in court.

Galliford told CBC News she was devastated to learn Carle had died.

"Krista was one of my best friends," she said. "[She] was going through PTSD, but I can tell you the last time I spoke with her she sounded upbeat and happy, but that could have been 'fake it until you make it.'"

'The sweetest, kindest person you ever met'

Indeed, in recent posts on social media, Carle wrote about being a proud mother. 

Merlo described Carle as her lifeline — someone who was always strong for someone else.  

"She was the sweetest, kindest person you ever met. I would cry on her shoulder and she would never show any weakness," she said.

Merlo and Carle checked in on each other regularly and says she, like others, is shocked because she didn't see it coming.

She also says recent comments by RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki that the RCMP is not broken have stunned those who do believe that.

"It was like a kick to the belly," Merlo said.

"People are still suffering as there is no union, no collective agreement, there is no process within the RCMP to make things better right now."

Merlo said she was so upset after hearing about Carle that she has written to Goodale reminding him that he promised change in 2016.

Merlo said that she is hearing from new people every week who are pushed to the brink of suicide.

Watch Carle discuss her harassment claims:

More members of the RCMP in British Columbia have come forward with serious allegations of harassment 3:17

Where to get help:

Canada Suicide Prevention Service

Toll free: 1-833-456-4566

Text: 45645

Chat: crisisservicescanada.ca

Association québécoise de prévention du suicide (AQPS) (French): 1-866-APPELLE

Kids Help Phone: 1-800-668-6868 (Phone), Live Chat counselling at www.kidshelpphone.ca

Canadian Association for Suicide PreventionFind a 24-hour crisis centre

If you're worried someone you know may be at risk of suicide, you should talk to them, says the Canadian Association of Suicide Prevention. Here are some warning signs: 

Suicidal thoughts.
Substance abuse.
Purposelessness.
Anxiety.
Feeling trapped.
Hopelessness and helplessness.
Withdrawal.
Anger.
Recklessness.
Mood changes.