A SOLDIER took his own life after suffering from depression and anxiety about life outside the army, an inquest has heard.
Bombardier James Strang, from 12 Regiment Royal Artillery, died from carbon monoxide poisoning in his car on May 29 at Baker Barracks, Thorney Island.
The 28-year-old, originally from Preston, Lancashire, was based in Emsworth where he lived with his wife Emma and their two young sons.
The inquest at Chichester Coroner’s Court was told yesterday he had become depressed since his hearing was damaged in a mortar blast in Afghanistan, in 2009. He was also suffering from gout and, possibly, sleep apnoea.
A statement by Mrs Strang read out at the inquest said her husband had been worried about redundancy and how he would house and support his family once he left the army.
Mrs Strang said: ‘When I first met James he did not have mental health issues. He had a lot of things to overcome which became overwhelming in the last six months. He decided to seek help.’
She added: ‘I was aware that his father had committed suicide when James was a lot younger but he viewed this in a very negative light. I did not think he would follow suit.’
The inquest heard Bdr Strang had talked to the community mental health team about his anxiety over his physical health and leaving the army. He had wanted to be medically discharged, rather than made redundant, and he was worried that this would not happen.
Mental health nurse Meyrick Grundy said: ‘James felt he had been poorly treated by the army following physical injuries on tour. He felt until he attended the Department for Community Mental Health no-one had listened to him.’
He added: ‘His concerns were about the discharge procedure, not knowing the timescale, not knowing what his future employment would be. There was also a question mark over finding a place to live.’
As police looked for Bdr Strang, they found internet searches on suicide on his computer.
Mrs Schofield asked Captain Karen Baker, who is in charge of resettlement at 12 Regiment, what support would have been available to Bdr Strang if he had been made redundant.
Cpt Baker said he had volunteered for redundancy and would have been told if he had been successful in June, the month after his death.
She said he would have been offered a comprehensive package to find work and adjust to life outside the military and anyone classed as vulnerable because of their mental health would have been offered more help.
Recording a verdict that Bdr Strang had taken his own life Ms Schofield said: ‘I hope the army will continue to support the family following James’ sad death.’
SOLDIER WAS ‘ROBUST’ AND SHOWED A ‘ZEST FOR LIFE’
BOMBARDIER James Strang had recently been promoted, his Sergeant Major told the inquest.
Sgt Maj Leon Young described Bdr Strang as ‘a very popular, likeable fellow.’
He said he had ‘a good zest for life’ and had been a keen wrestler before he joined the army, and an amateur film-maker.
‘He approached life well,’ said Sgt Maj Young. ‘I enjoyed having him in my battery and my regiment. He was robust, good on operations and never had any discipline or welfare issues.’
Sgt Maj Young described a time when Bdr Strang had organised a film quiz while his unit was in Newquay.
He said: ‘He persuaded members of the unit to be actors. He was very creative and these films are now on YouTube. Some of the soldiers dressed up as various actors from films.’