Army suicides at 16% of combat deaths

The Herald
Army suicides at 16% of combat deaths
AN BRUCE, Defence Correspondent
June 20 2007

Suicides among British veterans of the fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan are running at more than 16% of total combat deaths, according to figures obtained by The Herald.

A total of 23 soldiers who served in the war zones have taken their own lives since 2003, compared to 153 killed by enemy action.

The British rate is also outstripping the incidence of suicides in the US Army, where only 25 veterans out of 140,000 soldiers deployed to Iraq are known to have killed themselves last year.

The UK deaths include six who killed themselves while deployed and 17 who took their lives after returning to their home bases.

The tally includes only those whose suicides have been confirmed by coroners or registered as open verdict deaths between January 2003 and December 2006 in Iraq and October 2001 and December 2006 in Afghanistan.

Colonel Clive Fairweather, former deputy commander of the SAS and Scottish fundraiser for Combat Stress, the military mental health charity, said there was no doubt the British Army was exposed to a lot more pressure as a result of fighting two simultaneous wars with limited manpower.

"We see soldiers exhibiting the first signs of post-traumatic stress within months of their return from Iraq or Afghanistan. It used to take years," he said.

David Orman, a psychiatrist consultant to the US Army on suicide prevention, said military suicides typically drop during combat, when troops "are very preoccupied with staying alive".

And this Editorial from the Herald, here:

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