Suicides in the Army

Discussion in 'Current Affairs, News and Analysis' started by Jaeger, Jun 20, 2003.

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  1. I heard yesterday that Amnesty Internatonal (great friends of the British Army!) are calling for an inquiry into all the non-combat  deaths - in - service since 1990. This is on the back of the Deepcut controversy. It's being supported by many MP's spearheaded by that well known republican sympathiser Kevin McNamara (Lab. Hull N.)
    While sympathasing with the families of the four RLC trainees involved I have to say I'm getting increasingly pissed off with the way the media are treating this. To listen to these ignorant tossers you'd think Deepcut was the Foreign Legion training regiment at Sidi bel Abbes in 1950 or an SS punishment battalion in Russia c.1942 !!! There's much talk of conspiracies and cover-ups despite the fact that no one can think of what the conspiracies might amount to or to what purpose they aspire,or who is conducting the cover-ups! Some  woman was allowed to get away with saying that the Army does what it likes as far as enquiries go and destroys evidence. Is nobody in the MOD prepared to stand up for the good name of the Army and point out that all deaths in suspicious or unusual circumstances have to be investigated by the Civil Police and a Coroner!! You'd think somebody might have the balls to point out to these people that in the four years during which these four deaths occurred the normal rotation of staff at Deepcut would have seen least two CO's, 2i/c's, Adjutants,Training Officers,RSM's,Cheif Clerks etc etc. not to mention God knows how many assorted WO's SNCO's and J/NCO's and private soldiers . Makes a conspiracy  or a cover -up somewhat unlikely don't you think? Unless of course it's so huge and all pervading that the whole of the RLC is in on it. Again, why doesn't somebody stand up and point out how utterly ridiculous this is?. I'm sure that the sensitivities of the families are beig considered here but enough is enough, this kind of thing can and will do irreparable damage to the Army if left unchallenged and recruiting is piss-poor as it is!
     
  2. Well said, now get down from that large equine so that I can have a go.  

    I've heard, although I can't back it up with statistics, that the Army has a far lower suicide rate than general society.  But you don't hear that being reported, or that high-risk soldiers (with depression, etc) are not given loaded weapons.
     
  3. Correct and also when comparing universities with some training depots. Like for like - the Army suicide rate is considerably lower.
     
  4. woopert

    woopert LE Moderator

    The point that has been widely missed is that there is no correlation or link between any of the deaths at Deepcut, but the media like to give the impression that there is some sort of link/concpiricy at play.

    There are a number of issues under investigation that would make it innapropriate for me to say too much publicy, but there are 2 dreaths where the circumstances are indeterminate, but 2 that were moire clear cut in terms of the circumstances surrounding them. In one case there is circumstantial evidence to support the possibility of relationship problems being a major causal factor. Of course this doesn't make sexy reading to the reactionaries of the Daily Mail  :-/
     
  5. I am neither a friend of the media or a beater of the army, but a couple of facts do point to, at the very least, unusual circumstances surrounding some of these deaths.

    One of the deaths was concluded by the military to be suicide - even though the wounds inflicted included two gun shots to the chest and one to head. Now I'm no forensice scientist, but it seems odd that a person attempting to commit suicide should shoot themselves in the chest twice and only then decide to shoot themselves in the head.  It is even less likely that a person would shoot themselves in the head and then the chest!

    Two of the deceased, whose deaths have been recorded as suicide, showed no outward signs of suicidal depression - no being isolated, no letters of phone calls indicating depression to families or loved ones and no absence of friends.  This is extremely unusual.

    It is also odd that these have all occurred whilst the deceased were on guard duty.  Now it may well be that this is simply because these individuals had access to weapons and ammunition - a point not highlighted in the press I'll grant, but this would, statistically, be unusual in itself. Most suicidal people tend to attempt to hang themselves, slash their wrists or take an overdose.  Psychologically, shooting yourself is extremely difficult, even when you are suicidally depressed and is unusual, even in the military.

    All this has been compounded the lack of an inquiry. On the one hand, with the MOD believing there is nothing untoward going on, this is understandable. On the other hand, in an age where the media create an awful lot of opinion and aren't averse (whatever they claim) to spinning news to sell papers, in the circumstances, this is a naive approach.

    The families, having suddenly been given the possibility that their loved ones did not take their own lives, are howling for an inquiry.  The MOD, believing nothing untoward having happened, refuse.

    From the media's point of view, this is the best possible outcome.  They can now harangue the military for an independent inquiry, tell 'human interest' stories (thus creating the impression of caring) all the while selling more papers or improving  their ratings.  

    I do not know the exact circumstances surrounding the deaths of all these individuals.  The details above have been gleaned from newspaper and TV reporting.  But I do believe that, for the sake of the families concerned and the Armys reputation, a full, independent inquiry is the only way to proceed.
     
  6. Ventress

    Ventress LE Moderator

    You'll be in the RLC then? Funny how the RLC close ranks pretty sharpish when Deepcut is mentioned. some Warrant Officers I've spoken too, who were based there at the time deny anything was amiss!

    "but the media like to give the impression that there is some sort of link/concpiricy at play."
    What, apart from all being on guard at the time and being shot in dubious circumstances, whilst the Guard room procedures were questionable at best. Oh and none of the victims being given the privilage of a public enquiry.

    Don't you just love the MoD!
     
  7. "Well" he said ,as he dismounted from his large Irish charger, "I'm really pleased that I've managed to provoke such  high quality debate!!
    Gringo, me old mate, you don't make it clear as to whether or not you've ever been in the Forces or indeed have ever handled a weapon. Y'see it's quite possible for a person to shoot his or herself three times in different parts of the body, it's  called automatic fire. Simply put, if the weapons' change lever is set to "A" , the barrel placed against the chest and the trigger pulled, it's quite possible that the first couple of rounds will pass through the chest and,as the body falls forward, the last round passes through the head. Apart from this, do you not think that the Police investigation and subsequent Coroners enquiry would have noted something so obvious ?. Or maybe they're in on it as well? This is what annoys me most about the whole thing, the effortless assumption that just about everybody in every department that has had anything to do with these incidents is either a corrupt murderer or a ****ing moron!!!!! Even if the RLC is rotten to the Core (Corps?) can we simply assume that the Surrey Police and the Coroners Office are as well?
     
  8. ViroBono

    ViroBono LE Moderator

    If the MOD/RLC have nothing to hide and are happy that they are squeaky clean in each case, why not have a public enquiry?

    Whilst I think that bullying has decreased in the Army in recent years, it certainly hasn't stopped.  I wonder (having had professional contact with some of those involved), whether today's recruits are more likely to be affected by what would have been considered part of military life in the past.  Bullying can take many forms and the perpetrators are usually accomplished at covering themselves.

    I am aware of several cases where individuals committed suicide without showing any 'warning signs' to friends or family.  

    As to method, overdoses are probably the most popular, but not always with those who are serious about ending their lives.  Most suicides who use firearms aim into the mouth, under the chin or the side of their head.  If you look at the mechanism of injury you'll see that the when the weapon recoilled it likely to point upwards rather than downwards. I think it would be most unusual for a suicide to aim at his or her chest and fire on automatic.  If this was the case, and the proper procedures were followed afterwards, the weapon being set to automatic would have been spotted early on.

    Adding to the confusion is the fact that the RMP were allowed to get involved before civpol; the lost records and MOD's inexplicable desire to evade questions on the subject.

    On the other hand it could just be a series of coincidences.  

    I haven't made up my mind on this one; I think it has the potential to reflect badly on the Army.

    Interesting topic!
     
  9. My pay gets fcuked up fairly regularly. Reason, big org, oversite from one or two places, long chain of events, big machine. I don't jump to the conclusion that it's a cover up or a conspiracy. If you have any experience of the military, you will know that to get the amount of units/departments working together that would be involved in a death to come up with a 'cover up or  consiracy' would be a miracle. I just can't see it happening.

    For a unit to have a finger, espec from the media, pointed at it, they will appear to close ranks. Reason, basic mil pride that they are being questioned for something out of the ordinary, nothing more. No grassy knoll, no area 51.

    As was remarked, it's newsworthy. When it then becomes ordinary, the press, who feel they have a scoop, don't like to admit they have gone down the wrong road. Mention the word conspiracy or military scandal and tommorrows chip wrappers are sold.

    I do, however, feel for the families who need a straight answer to the loss of a loved one.



    Foot note. North Korea may have its faults as a totalitarian dictatorship but at least they have the press squared away! :p (the nearest smiley I could get to tongue in cheek).
     
  10. Is it really that unusual? It's not that easy to tell if someone is unhappy.
    Yes, but as you had just pointed out, these soldiers had access to guns and ammo. Therefore, if you're going to comment that "most suicidal people" have preferred methods, and you're judging your comment based on statistics, OF COURSE guns aren't going to be a common option: as very few people have access to them.

    I agree that the families need to know.

    Also - while we've already had comments about the Army having a comparatively low suicide rate compared to general society, it's maybe worth considering the age/sex comparison more closely to see if it emphasises that point even more. So compare males in the Armed Forces between the ages of 18-30 and males in general society between those ages. The reason I say "males" is that this is the group and age group with the highest rate within general society.

    I hope I've made sense! :)
     
  11. Mmm, bit two minded about this one.

    Don’t believe the "army wide" conspiracy theory for one second. Squaddies on the whole can't be trusted to keep their bank PIN numbers a secret, let alone a murder.

    But, neither do I believe that you can shoot yourself three times in the same place, even with an auto weapon. I have absolutely zero knowledge about the particular incidents bar what I have read in the papers or heard on here, so if I am wrong, please correct me, but I understand that at least 2 of the deaths were by multiple gunshot wounds with fairly even spacing.

    Anyone that has fired an auto weapon would know that this would be fcuking hard to do if you were going to off yourself, due to the pull of the weapon, the crap grip you would have on it if you were pointing it at yourself etc etc.

    Whilst I agree with the concept of gun deaths being more prevalent within an organisation that has more access to weapons, I find it hard to believe that all of these poor kids deliberately waited until they were on guard to off themselves, niether do I beleive that they wondered  off into the woods to do it, in a place where it would take them donkeys years to be found.

    And, although there has to be at least one depot that has a higher topping rate than the rest, it doesn't quite sit right that Deepcut has had so many that are so very similar, I mean, come on, if you wanted to point a big pointy finger at a depot that had a rougher time of it than most, surely it would be an inf depot, where the mentality is one more geared towards violence than logistics.

    But that’s just my drunken opinion.
     
  12. HRH ORG: SORRY MATE YOU'VE LOST ME, SURELY  IT WOULD BE COMPARATIVELY EASY TO SHOOT ONESELF WITH AN SA80 BECAUSE ITS SO SHORT? A LOT EASIER THAN WITH AN SLR AND THAT'S BEEN DONE A FEW TIMES! AS FOR THE SPACING OF THE ROUNDS, IF THEY'RE FIRED AT V.CLOSE RANGE THEN OF COURSE THEY WILL BE FAIRLY EVENLY SPACED,AND CLOSE TOGETHER. IF HOWEVER THEY'RE FIRED ON SINGLE SHOT AND BY A SECOND PARTY THEN THE BODY WILL SURELY HAVE SHIFTED AFTER THE FIRST IMPACT, AND THE SECOND AND SUBSEQUENT ROUNDS WILL STRIKE DIFFERENT PARTS OF THE BODY. THIS IS ASSUMING OF COURSE THAT THE PERSON WASN'T KILLED BY THE FIRST SHOT AND THE MURDERER THEN  APPROACHED THE BODY AND FIRED THE REST OF THE ROUNDS CLOSE TO THE FIRST?
    ANYWAY ALL OF THIS IS LARGELY BOLLOCKS, I'D BE AMAZED IF THE POLICE DID NOT TEST THE HANDS OF THE CORPSE FOR FIREARMS RESIDUE, THIS WOULD PROVE IF HE/SHE HAD FIRED THE WEAPON IN THE FIRST PLACE! WHAT ABOUT THE LOCATION OF THE EJECTED EMPTY CASES, WAS THIS CONSISTENT WITH THE PERSON HAVING COMMITTED SUICIDE? POWDER BURNS ON THE FLESH OR CLOTHING?THIS IS BASIC STUFF AND WHAT EVERYBODY SEEMS TO FORGET (INCLUDING PEOPLE ON THIS FORUM) IS THAT EACH OF THESE DEATHS WAS SUBJECT TO A POLICE INVESTIGATION, A POST MORTEM AND CORONERS COURT. NONE OF THESE DIVERSE GROUPS OR INDIVIDUALS SAW ANY REASON TO SUSPECT THAT A MURDER HAD OCCURRED. OR WERE THEY ALL IN ON IT TOO? THIS IS UTTER BALLS AND I STILL DON'T UNDERSTAND WHY THE MOD WON'T JUST COME OUT AND SAY SO!!
     
  13. woopert

    woopert LE Moderator

    Jaeger: CAPS!!!!

    QMan:

    I'm not "Closing ranks", merely making a statement. Those of us in the Corps are aware of the reputation that was with Deepcut for bullying in the mid-90s, and many were isolated incidents that were dealt with, and completely unrelated. The news media have made a concerted attempt in the past to suggest that a few incidents involving NCO instructors who didn't know each other, under the command of entirely different officers, over a prolonged period of time were somehow linked into a wide and overt culture of bullying and hazing that simply didn't exist in the way the press described. The same comparison can be drawn here with the deaths in question.

    Ptes Gray and Collinson were both deemed to have commiteed suicide by the army, and even a forensic examiner commissioned by the Collinson family to review the evidence could not be more than "70% sure" that the gunshot wounds were not self-inflicted, and that would never stand up in court as cast-iron testimony (95% certainty or higher is usual).

    Since 1990 there have been approx 200 gunshot related deaths in the army not associated with operational activity (training accidents, suspected suicide/self-harm, negligence, and malfunction all included). That equates to about 15 a year. 4 Soldiers over a 7 year period (while 4 too many!) for a Corps the size of the RLC is very small, something that the press are quick to overlook or loose sight of.

    The RMP are always the first to do a cursory investigation of any crime committed on MoD property, though something of this magnitude Surrey Constabulary would have been called straight away. I agree that it has been a balls-up from start to finish, more by accident than by design. Any investigation must also include some element of reporting and investigation procedures to ensure that this does not happen again.

    I'm with Flashy on this one, it is the press' own best interests to stir up a scandal on this one because it sells papers. I have seen some wierd and wonderful theorising on what might have happened, including an IRA sniper taking a position somewhere near Bisley and slotting soldiers on Guard at the most implausable distances, all purpotrated by the media as absolute truth and decrying the MoD for not acting sooner. Frankly I believe that dealing with suicide is hardest of all because I think it would not be unreasonable to suggest that families do not wish to believe/accept that their loved ones took their own lives. I would suggest that the families of Ptes Gray, Collinson, and James would rather believe that there was some foul play at work and that their children had died at the hands of someone else, and that they are willing to cling to that hope fuelled by the newspapers reporting.
     
  14. Ventress

    Ventress LE Moderator

    So you wouldn't say Deepcut was a centre of Fijian drinking and bullying and a holding camp for numerous soldiers waiting for a course- and with all the inherant problems bored soldiers create? Even RLC NCO's would rather sign off than get a posting there. And having seen first hand the behaviour of soldiers in Deepcut, I can assure you the problem has lived and developed through the 90s to the 2000's!

    Surely if there is doubt over one death a public enquiry should be held and people held to account- which I know is pie in the sky as the MoD are past masters in side stepping this.
     
  15. Journalists write to sell newspapers - always remember that as it will help you understand them.

    The Deepcut saga is behind us now. One of the lessons learnt is that large recruit depots must improve their supervision ratio, and the forthcoming influx of NCOs into these depots will help.

    IMHO a public inquiry will achieve nothing that is not known already and would be a waste of money that could be better used elsewhere.