Suicide amonst troops


Lots on this before but this article well worth reading, together with the linked articles:

The number of troops who have committed suicide after serving in Iraq and Afghanistan is equivalent to 10 per cent of deaths suffered on operations.

The Ministry of Defence has disclosed that 17 serving personnel have killed themselves after witnessing the horrors of conflict.

There are also fears that the number of suicides among troops who have recently left the Armed Forces could be significantly higher than 17. However, no records are kept once they leave the Services.

Unless the problem is quickly addressed then the military could experience the neglect suffered by Falklands veterans where the estimated 300 suicides from the 1982 conflict far outstrips the 258 killed in action.

Veterans say they are also being failed by the authorities as they have to wait 18 months for treatment by an NHS psychiatrist as they are not given priority treatment.

In a written Parliamentary answer, Bob Ainsworth, the minister for Armed Forces, confirmed that there had been 17 confirmed suicides or open verdict deaths, with 15 from Iraq, one from Afghanistan and one who had served in both theatres.

The figures are up to Dec 31, 2006, when 171 troops had been killed - the equivalent to one suicide to every 10 deaths on operations. There have been 83 fatalities this year.

In addition, six Servicemen and women have killed themselves while on operations.

Over the same period, 81 personnel who had not served on operations committed suicide.

The MoD figures do not include Territorial Army personnel, 14,000 of whom have served in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Tobias Ellwood, the Tory MP who tabled the question, said the high suicide rate "suggests the horrors our troops are going through".

He criticised the aftercare for soldiers as "not being up to standard" and condemned the MoD for failing to monitor those who committed suicide after leaving the Forces.

"We expect so much of military personnel and when we do put them in harm's way the least we could do is ensure they are looked after when they return to civilian life. There are serious questions to be asked here," said the MP, who served in the Royal Green Jackets and whose brother Jonathan was killed in the 2002 Bali bombings.

"It is no wonder why we are not able to recruit enough people when see how we treat those who have served the country so well."

Even when soldiers are sent for psychiatric treatment there are questions over whether civilian clinics are appropriate. Following the closure of the last military hospital this year there are now no dedicated mental health wards for Service personnel when there were once dozens.

Combat Stress, the charity that looks after former Servicemen with psychiatric problems, questioned whether the current MoD contract with the Priory Group of clinics was suitable.

"Someone suffering trauma from a car crash is not the same as someone who has been blown up or had to scrape the brains of a best mate off his combat jacket or watched children shot dead as human shields or lived for six months in mortal fear of his life," said Robert Marsh, a former soldier and head of communications at Combat Stress.

"That's what veterans are telling us - they have difficulty engaging with the treatment."

The MoD said it employed 13 psychiatrists, 99 mental health nurses and 50 psychiatric civilian staff with staff on hand in operational theatres.

"We take our Servicemen and women's mental health very seriously and thankfully have seen a decline in the number of people committing suicide since 2004," a spokesman said.
This is a complex and emotive issue. I think this is an area where the government has a clear duty of care and has tried to address it with the use of civvy clinincs. If that policy is not working it needs to be changed.

How many of those lads or lasses who took thier own lives had been to seek help? It is available at the drop of a hat, every unit has a Padre and is an excellent starting point, he or she has a load of resources to pull on.

If all these people are still serving they have a chain of command above them who should be looking for warning signs. THey have mates and they share rooms with people.

I dont think it is all blame on the govt, everyone can play a part.

THe problem comes with those who have left and devlop problems afterwards including TA blokes.
Nothing new im sadly afraid,as said more soldiers committed suicide after the Falklands than died in the fighting, Northern Ireland i dread to think how many died after, certainly through another Organisation they had possibly a few hundred names.

Also the 1st Gulf war produced its own suicides, yet it always seems that the M.O.D have things in place after the event, if it was known from the 70s and 80s, then why are they hurrahing about improving since 2004???

Maybe thousands have died through suicide, and yet they are crowing about 3 years 'success' !!!!


Very true Scarletto.
I gave a talk the other evening to a bunch of middle aged, middle class ladies.
One of the things they were most interested in (& not the main subject of the talk) was the treatment of troops for both injury & PTSD. They were absolutely gobsmacked that after discharge the MOD was no longer responsible for their well being & were thrown, for PTSD, on charity as the NHS could not either cope or understand.
They knew about the problems of the Falkland etc but, as I say, they were surprised how little help guys got!

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