Suicides among British troops more than double in decade with 17 this year alone
Suicides among British troops have more than DOUBLED in a decade, new figures reveal.
Serving members of the armed forces are now killing themselves at a rate of more than one every fortnight.
In 2011, 13 suicides were recorded but by 2019 there were 27, data from the Office for National Statistics shows.
Deaths have increased almost every year – even though the size of the forces has been cut by almost 40,000 since 2010.
This year at least 17 members of the military and 67 veterans have taken their own lives, according to ex-forces support group Veterans United Against Suicide.
Spokesman Jeff Williams said: “Veterans and service personnel are killing themselves at alarming rates.
“If these deaths were happening in any other profession there would be a national outcry but serving and former military personnel seem to be expendable. Despite all of the promises from government, nothing changes.”
General Sir Richard Dannatt, former Chief of the General Staff, said: “Progress has been made but more must be done.
“What is needed is a complete culture change so it is accepted by all members of the armed forces that mental health issues are respected and understood in the same way as physical illnesses or injuries.
“The chain of command has a role to play to reassure people that if they have issues which are reported and treated then it will not affect their careers.”
This year’s tragedies include the deaths of Nathan Worner and Mitchell Matthews, friends who served in 5 Rifles.
Mitchell, 24 was found dead in his Army quarters at Bulford, Wilts, a few weeks after Nathan, 20, died.
Nathan was also friends with Highlander Alistair McLeish, 18, found hanged in 2018 at Catterick Garrison, North Yorks.
Relatives are convinced the Army failed them – and must take suicides more seriously.
Alistair’s mum Karen believes the Army did not care if he lived or died. She said: “I wish my son never joined. I’d advise anyone who has a son or daughter planning to do the same to think twice.”
She backs the Sunday People’s Save Our Soldiers campaign, which calls for an overhaul of how the MoD tackles post-traumatic stress disorder and other mental health issues.
The Ministry of Defence maintains suicides amongst serving personnel are lower than the national average.
A spokesman said: “We take the mental health of our personnel extremely seriously and encourage anyone who is struggling to come forward and access the wide range of support available.
“This includes a 24-hour helpline, resilience training before deployment and, from next year, mandatory mental health training for all.”