Police in Merritt are asking members of the public for a little compassion after a traumatic suicide earlier this month outside the city’s RCMP detachment.
On Dec. 5, an armed man parked in a lot next to the detachment, got out of his vehicle and fired a shot.
When officers emerged from the building, the man pointed his rifle at them and they took cover. The man then pointed his rifle at an approaching RCMP vehicle, which retreated.
A short time later, the man turned the weapon on himself and died as a result of the injury.
“Sadly, a young man lost his life and our officers had to bear witness to this situation as it rapidly evolved,” Merritt RCMP Sgt. Joshua Roda said in a statement. “Our hearts hurt with his family and we hope that tragic incidents like this encourage people to reach out for help before it’s too late.”
An investigation by the Independent Investigations Office, B.C.’s arm’s-length civilian police watchdog, cleared Merritt Mounties of any wrongdoing in the incident.
“The public often has the perception that we, as the police, are essentially bulletproof — that we can go through violent encounters, witness horrible things that no one should ever have to see and then simply move on,” Roda said. “This could not be further from the truth.”
Roda said no amount of police training can prepare someone to witness unspeakable tragedies sometimes encountered by Mounties.
“Did most of us know what we signed up for when we joined the Mounted Police? Yes, of course we did,” he said. “But that does not make it any easier to deal with.
“As police, we witness and encounter horrendous things daily and often deal with people on the worst day of their lives. It’s not an easy task and it takes its toll mentally on every police officer that has sworn to serve and protect,” Roda said.
“We are proud of the supports that are available to our police officers and all employees who, unfortunately, are directly involved in high-stress critical incidents or struggle with the everyday stressors and pressures inherent with policing.”
If you feel like you are in crisis or are considering suicide, please call the Crisis Centre BC suicide hotline at 1-800-784-2433.
Some warning signs include suicidal thoughts, anger, recklessness, mood changes, anxiety, lack of purpose, helplessness and substance use.