Posted on 9/29/2014 2:09:00 PM by Alison Sandor

The province’s Special Investigations Unit continues to probe the death of Staff Sgt. Kal Ghadban, the much loved and respected head of the break and enter, street crime and human trafficking units.

Three SIU investigators and one forensic investigator have been assigned to this case.

Ghadban took his own life Sunday afternoon in his office at police headquarters on Elgin Street.

The SIU confirmed in a release late Monday afternoon that Ghadban suffered serious injuries at the police station and was transported to hospital where he was later pronounced dead.

While little is known about the circumstances behind his tragic death, news of his passing has raised the issue of the toll the difficult job can have on first responders.

Since the end of April, 22 Canadian first responders have died by their own hand, five in September alone.

“Twenty-two since April 29th – one suicide is too many and I thought when we hit 10 or 13 that was an astounding number, but we’re at the end of September and we’ve had 22,” said former Toronto paramedic Vince Savoia, the executive director of the Tema Conter Memorial Trust, a charity aimed at breaking the silence of first responders.

“The men and women of Ottawa’s emergency services organizations: police, fire, EMS – they are all a brotherhood and they are going to be feeling it, feeling some sort of pain and hopelessness and helplessness today and I just want to say from the bottom of our hearts at Tema, we are sincerely sorry for their loss.”

He said many first responders often find it difficult to talk about their feelings, but he’s urging them to come forward.

“It’s not a weakness to come forward and ask for help,” he said. “There is no shame in asking for help. In fact, it takes a lot of courage to reach out and ask for help.”

Savoia told CFRA sometimes the daily stress of the job is too much to bear, other times one particular traumatic event can be a trigger.

“Sometime it’s a blurred line,” he said. “Sometimes we really don’t understand if it’s work-related, or if it’s something that’s a happened at home, but usually it’s a combination of the two.”

Resources for first responders are available through the Tema Conter Memorial Trust and Savoia said if you know someone who may need help you shouldn’t hesitate to speak out.

Work being done to help those suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is also being highlighted.

New Democrat MPP Cheri DiNovo is behind a bill at Queen’s Park that would see PTSD classified as an occupational disease for first responders, a move aimed to make the lives of police officers, paramedics and fire fighters a little easier.

“It’s part of the job – you know that in all of the first responders that some will eventually come down with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder,” said DiNovo. “The tragedy on top of that tragedy is that we don’t look after them very well when they do. There is no automatic coverage for them with WSIB as there would be for other diseases, so they have to go through the re-traumatizing process of proving they came down with PTSD because of their jobs and that’s unfair.”

If passed, the bill would give first responders who are forced to take time off because of PTSD would not have to go through the process of proving they have the disorder so that they can receive benefits.

The Ottawa Police Service is offering counselling services to any police officer who feels they may need it following Ghadban’s death.

“Our message is that if you need to talk to somebody, there is somebody there to listen to you,” said Police Chief Charles Bordeleau Sunday evening. “Have that conversation and have the courage to stand up and say ‘I need to talk to somebody’ because it’s important that if somebody is facing a difficult time through this that we listen and we hear them.”

Read more about the services provided through Tema.