Toronto Canada Feb 13 2020
The news of yet another Toronto Police officer taking his own life is going to be sad no matter what the reason behind it.
But Const. Mike Austin’s back story is so heartbreaking — he not only dealt with difficult policing matters in his 20-year career but was suffering from incredible personal pain and loss as well.
“He had been struggling,” a close friend on the job with him said.
There’s something about being shot at that is difficult to get over.
“You can run really fast when someone is trying to kill you,” Austin told court of a 2006 incident in which a suspect shot at two police officers in Regent Park and was charged with attempted murder.
Austin went back to work in 51 Division but was never the same.
“He suffered from severe PTSD issues,” the friend said. “He really battled with the fallout from that attempt on his life.”
It’s hard to imagine things could get worse — but for Austin they did.
In 2015, several peers tell the Toronto Sun, his daughter Daniela took her own life.
“Mike was devastated,” said his friend. “That, he never recovered from.”
In recent times he had been working in the Toronto Police Operations Centre at headquarters and was a vital and well-respected part of the team
But Thursday night he decided to end it all.
“He went down to the basement parking area (of police headquarters on College St.) and ended his life with his gun,” said a peer. “It’s so sad.”
“People are pretty upset. It’s shocking.”
Knowing the impact this has had on his men and women, Chief Mark Saunders took to Twitter to express his condolences.
“It is with great sorrow that I share that we lost a member of the Toronto Police family last night,” tweeted the chief early Friday morning. “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.”
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.
But that this has happened again is more than tragic. It’s something that’s occurring far too frequently.
Austin is believed to be the 10th Ontario police officer to take their life in recent years and the second Toronto officer in four months. On Sept. 26, 2019, 12 Division Const. Vadym Martsenyuk also fatally shot himself.
Mike McCormack, president of the Toronto Police Association, said that any time a fellow member is hurt in any way on the job, or from the effects of the job, they all hurt.
But this one has rocked the whole service.