I've no doubt the job killed him: Cop's daughter speaks out

SEEING her father's name beside his fallen colleagues' would satisfy Coast woman Amy Williams that her dad's 33 years of service were formally recognised.

A push to include the names of officers who take their own lives on the state and national police memorials is set to reach Queensland Parliament this week.

New South Wales police last month changed their policy to add the names of officers who had taken their lives as a result of their job onto the New South Wales Police Wall of Remembrance.

Officers who commit suicide are not currently included on the Queensland Police Service Honour Roll.

Amy Williams supports a broader push to have police who took their own lives included on the state police memorial. Her father Russell Sheehan took his own life after 33 years as a police officer.
Amy Williams supports a broader push to have police who took their own lives included on the state police memorial. Her father Russell Sheehan took his own life after 33 years as a police officer. Warren Lynam

Ms Williams' dad, Sunshine Coast police officer Detective Senior Constable Russell Sheehan, died on December 23, 2015.

"He gave everything to the job," Ms Williams said.

"The day he died he was supposed to go to work but he couldn't bring himself to go to work any more."

She said her dad would share "snippets" of the incidents that led to his depression.

"That was only a fraction of what he had seen or heard.

"I have no doubt that over the years, all of these little traumas added up to one big stress.

"Our dad wasn't killed on the job but I have no doubt that the job killed him."

Former Maroochydore Criminal Investigation Brach officer Detective Senior Constable Russell Sheehan and his wife Kathy celebrate a friend's wedding in Theodore in 2015.
Former Maroochydore Criminal Investigation Brach officer Detective Senior Constable Russell Sheehan and his wife Kathy celebrate a friend's wedding in Theodore in 2015. Photo Contributed

Ms Williams, her mother Kathy Sheehan and sisters Kaitlyn Pobar, Lara Sheehan and Eden Sheehan have become dedicated supporters of Blue Hope, a not-for-profit organisation which aims to reduce police suicide.

Ms Williams said her family was focused on supporting future measures that prevented further suicides.

But she said her father, as well as all other police officers who took their lives as a result of the job, should be recognised on memorials the same as those killed in the line of duty.

"If it happened, we would be thrilled that his 33 years worth of work would be formally recognised."

Caloundra law firm Roche Legal also supports the push to establish a national consensus for the police memorial process.

Director Chris Roche said police who lost their lives due to the stress of the job should not be discriminated against.

He said it was a situation that could be easily fixed and would mean "so much" to families.

"I can't think of one decent reason why you wouldn't," Mr Roche said.

His father was a police officer, his nephew is a police officer and he has a close friend in the service.

"It (the job) is fraught with not only physical danger but also psychological danger."

He said he would consider taking up a fight similar to that of a Canadian family that resulted in the Ontario Human Rights Commission last month settling with Toronto Police Service to include suicide officers' names on its memorial wall.

"I would hope that it wouldn't come to that," Mr Roche said.

"But if it did come to that, we wouldn't be shy to bring such an action."

The man driving the push, former Northern Territory police officer Steven Isles, expected the issue would be raised in Queensland Parliament this week.

Mr Isles' father, former officer-in-charge of Ayr police Senior Sergeant Mick Isles, has been a missing person since 2009.

A Queensland Coroner found in 2012 that Snr Sgt Isles took his own life.

Steven said he hoped a decision to allow suicide officers' names on state and the national memorial walls would be completed before National Police Remembrance Day in September.

"We are not pushing for anything that should not already exist," Mr Isles said.

A Queensland Police Service spokeswoman said policy on the issue was being considered and would be "undertaken in due course with appropriate consultation across jurisdictions".

For more information on Mr Isles campaign visit www.change.org/p/australia-national-consensus-for-police-memorial-process-include-police-officers-lost-to-suicide


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