Victoria Police is grappling with the suicides of two officers in a week, as it awaits a high-level review of mental health issues within the force that is expected to recommend an overhaul of support services.
As Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton described the challenge of mental health issues among police as "one of the most important issues" he had to face, the families of the two officers were mourning the sudden losses.
In 41 days this year, two officers and a police employee have taken their lives. It has been almost 10 years since a Victoria Police officer died on duty, according to the Police Association honour roll.
The first officer who died this week was from Echuca police station, but ended his life at a house in Tocumwal, a small town in NSW about 110 kilometres to the north-east.
The other officer was from Mordialloc station, and is understood to have taken his own life after being involved in a minor traffic incident in the bayside suburbs on Wednesday night.
Neither officer was on duty at the time of their deaths.
"The death by suicide of a police member is always cause for enormous concern at Victoria Police. Looking after our people is one of our highest priorities," police spokeswoman Acting Sergeant Melissa Seach said.
"We are heavily committed to improving the mental health support available to all our staff.
"We know that anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress can all be triggered by the stressful situations our people can find themselves in."
Acting Sergeant Seach said the Victoria Police Mental Health Review would be completed in late March. Mental health experts have been consulted as part of the review.
"Suicide has long been a problem for Victoria Police as it has been across the population in general.
"Victoria Police understands that with improvements in recognising and addressing mental health issues, the incidence of suicide can be reduced and we are committed to doing this.
"The organisation will continue to work ... [with] partners such as the Police Association, beyondblue and independent universities to improve our services and ability to break down barriers and help those at risk."
In October, The Age reported that an officer had taken her own life at a police station, soon after she was deemed fit to carry a service firearm, despite suffering from mental illness.
The leading senior constable was a mother of three.
It was also reported that a senior police officer who was charged with murder suffered mental health issues for almost a decade before he allegedly shot and killed a man during a routine intercept in Windsor in 2013.
Senior Constable Tim Baker, 44, allegedly shot Vlado Micetic three times in the chest during the intercept, and claimed he acted in self-defence.
He is believed to have an extensive history of psychiatric problems, raising further concerns about Victoria Police's handling of mental illness and its policies surrounding access to firearms.
Mr Baker took extended leave on several occasions because of his illness, and was only allowed to resume work after approval from a Victoria Police psychiatrist.
But less than a year before the shooting, it is believed Mr Baker was involved in a serious altercation with another officer that should have set off alarms, according to colleagues of the accused man.
The coroner is also set to investigate the death of a sergeant who took his own life last June.
It is believed at least five officer deaths are before the coroner. More than 40 Victoria Police officers have reportedly committed suicide since 1990.
The force said they would not comment on the circumstances of the officers' deaths while they were the subject of coronial investigations, including whether they were reviewing access to service weapons.
The story Two Victoria Police officers take their own lives in a week first appeared on The Age.