A veteran Toronto police office who died by an apparent suicide Thursday night is being remembered by his colleagues as “kind” and “dedicated.”
Chief Mark Saunders confirmed that Const. Mike Austin, a member of the force for 21 years, died Thursday night and his death was being investigated as a suicide.
“We are grieving the tragic loss of our friend and colleague, and we offer condolences and support to the member’s family at this time,” said Saunders in a tweet.
“Mike was loved by many and he will be missed.”
A source told Global News that Austin died inside a parking garage at the Toronto police headquarters located on College Street.
Mike McCormack, president of the Toronto Police Association, explained the loss of his decade-long friend as “devastating” in an interview on Friday.
“It resonates around the entire policing community,” said McCormack. “This type of trauma… this type of event sends a shock wave through the entire policing family.”
Cons. David Hopkinson worked with Austin and credited him as being one of the architects of the Toronto police operations centre.
“He had the best interests of the people of the community at heart,” Hopkinson told Global News.
“He always tried to be the best he could be at all times.”
Awareness surrounding police officer suicides has gained prominence over the recent years.
The Ontario government announced the creation of the workplace review in April 2019 after more than 12 officers died by suicide since 2012.
“The key is to break down the culture that I’ve seen broken down over the last 30 years… that we’re infallible, that it’s weakness to seek help” said McCormack.
Saunders said they are focusing on member wellness and supporting Austin’s family at this time.
If you or someone you know is in crisis and needs help, resources are available. In case of an emergency, please call 911 for immediate help. The Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention, Depression Hurts and Kids Help Phone 1-800-668-6868 all offer ways of getting help if you, or someone you know, may be suffering from mental health issues.