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Local OPP officer shares personal loss to raise awareness about mental health hotline


Const. Katy Viccary is leading the charge for the OPP's mental health awareness campaign to get more people battling in silence the help they need with the launch of the national suicide prevention hotline.

"I'm in my 15th year of policing, and seven years ago, I lost my father to suicide," Viccary revealed.

For Viccary and so many others, the holiday season can be the toughest time of year for those struggling with their mental health.

"As a police officer and as a daughter who wishes very badly that her father was still around - but if I can help others in the community, then that fills my cup," said the OPP constable with the Nottawasaga detachment.

John Garner and his daughter, Katy Viccary, on her wedding day on February 16, 2011. (Supplied)

The government announced $156 million over three years for the new three-digit hotline, allowing people in crisis to dial 988 anywhere in Canada to be connected 24/7 with trained responders.

The Nottawasaga detachment launched a public awareness campaign this week to erase stigmas and fear or judgement that often come with talking about mental health.

"The goal here is to save lives. We've lost too many people, and if we can do our part to help ensure the mental health and well-being of the people in our community, that's beneficial to everybody," Viccary said.

"Everybody suffers mental health challenges at some point in their life; removing that stigma and making sure people know that there is health available, and there is nothing wrong with reaching for help. That's the best place that we can start," said OPP Commissioner Thomas Carrique.

The commissioner said its crisis call diversion program has helped get a third of those in distress in touch immediately with mental health professionals even before police arrive on the scene.

The OPP encourages those in crisis to contact the Your Support Services Network, or starting Thursday, to call or text 988.

"And with each call that they receive it's got the potential to save a life if nothing else change of life," Carrique said.

"I just hope that people understand that they are loved and that there are supports and resources available," Viccary added.

The OPP constable invites anyone who has lost a loved one to suicide to join her on the Simcoe County Suicide Awareness Council with the message, 'You are not alone.' Top Stories

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