Tue, Jul 16, 2013 - Page 7 News List

Suicide claims more lives of UK troops than Taliban

AFP, LONDON

A total of 50 serving and veteran British soldiers committed suicide last year, more than were killed fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan, according to figures reported on Sunday.

The Ministry of Defence confirmed that seven serving soldiers killed themselves last year and a further 14 died in suspected suicides, although inquests have not yet been held.

An investigation by the BBC found that at least 29 veterans also took their lives last year. There are no official figures.

A total of 40 British soldiers died in action in Afghanistan in the same period.

Relatives of those who killed themselves told the BBC the military should do more to tackle post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

One soldier who committed suicide, Dan Collins, had twice survived being shot in Helmand, was blown off his feet by a roadside bomb and then witnessed a close friend killed in front of him.

He was diagnosed with PTSD and given treatment, but after 10 months the army said he had recovered. On New Year’s Eve 2011, he hanged himself.

“You’ve got units for soldiers that are severely injured and they’re treated. You should have a unit for treating soldiers with PTSD,” his mother Deana Collins said.

A spokesman for the ministry said: “Every suicide is a tragedy and our thoughts remain with the families of all those who have sadly taken their own lives.”

“Mental health of our personnel and veterans is a top priority for the government, that is why we have committed £7.4 million [US$11 million] to ensure there is extensive mental health support in place for everyone who needs it,” he said.

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