BBC Panorama Programme Finds Suicide Rates in Soldiers and Veterans Higher Than Combat Zone Death Rate

The BBC’s Panorama programme has found that in 2012 a total of 50 soldiers and veterans took their own lives, compared to 44 who were killed in action in Afghanistan.

Of those 50, 29 were veterans, while 21 were serving soldiers; 7 are confirmed to have killed themselves, with the remaining 14 pending inquests into suspected suicides.

Unlike in America, the British government does not record the suicide rate among veterans, but by collating information obtained under the Freedom of Information act, as well as writing to every coroner in the country and analysing newspaper reports and coroners’ inquests, Panorama was able to establish the figure of 29.

Of the serving soldiers, the figure of 21 is on that has increased by 300% since 2010, and it seems clear to the families of those soldiers that they have been massively negatively affected by what they have experienced in combat. L/Sgt Dan Collins killed himself on New Year’s Eve 2011; his girlfriend, Victoria Roach commented, saying: “Nightmares were the main thing. It was pretty clear he was back there reliving everything.”

L/Sgt Collins was experiencing post traumatic stress disorder, the body’s “natural response” to distressing events, said Dr. Claudia Herbert. Though the MoD maintains that only 2.9% of serving soldiers develop PTSD – a figure lower than in the general population – the number of soldiers with PTSD has more than doubled in the last three years for those who served in Afghanistan. In 2009 it stood at 108; by 2012 that number had reached 231.

Though the reasons behind individual cases are complex, and there is no hard and fast way to ascertain how many of the 21 soldiers and 29 veterans were suffering from PTSD, General Sir Richard Dannatt believes the suicide rate among veterans should still be monitored: “It’s pretty clear to me that it should be happening because once you have some statistics you can start to do something about it,”

PTSD claims are a fundamental part of our service, and one of the foundations of our armed forces claims department. At Blackwater Law we’re here to help those who have come back from combat by helping them achieve them the justice they and their family deserve. If you believe you may be entitled to a claim, contact our specialist armed forces department today and our professional team, lead by military claims expert Jason Brady, will be happy to help you.