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Oskaloosa community reflects on loss of police officer to suicide

According to Blue H.E.L.P., a nonprofit that tracks police suicides, at least 57 U.S. officers have died by suicide in 2021. In 2020, 172 died by suicide.

OSKALOOSA, Iowa — Sept. 5-11 is Suicide Prevention Week, and the Oskaloosa Police Department is continuing to raise awareness for one of their own.

Officer Ian Barnhart took his life in June 2020. 

His family said his life helped them understand the stress police officers go through.

To honor Barnhart, his family and Oskaloosa PD will hold the first annual Ian Barnhart Memorial Golf Tournament Friday at noon at the Edmundson Golf Course. 

All proceeds will go to the police department.

Barnhart's aunt, Julie Sarver, said he lived with her for a year.

“One of the things that we talk about is that I never saw any signs. So I think what we want to make sure that we tell people is let’s make sure we are talking," she said. "Always be talking.”

Ofc. Alex Sirovy found Barnhart's body. Now, because of him, Sirovy takes his mental health more seriously.

"We are people too. We have feelings. We go through mental illness," Sirovy said.

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According to Blue H.E.L.P., a nonprofit that tracks police suicides, at least 57 U.S. officers have died by suicide in 2021. In 2020, 172 died by suicide.

In 2019, the number was significantly higher at 238.

Moving forward, Barnhart's family will raise money on the golf course towards a cause that he cared about.

From this memorial, Sarver wants people to take away at least one thing. 

“I want people to know that talking is okay," she said.

Sirovy agreed, saying “It’s okay to not be okay. It’s just not okay to stay that way.”

Donations can be sent to www.barnhart-memorial.com.

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