Fallout from Tory leadership debate must not derail key plan to tackle veteran suicide crisis, campaigners demand

BRITAIN’S future prime minister must not derail critical plans to tackle the nation’s veteran suicide crisis, the mum of a special forces hero who killed himself has demanded.

Monday, 1st July 2019, 2:45 pm
Viv Johnston, mother of special forces hero Danny Johnston, is calling on people to back a charitable foundation in honour of her son, who took his own life in May. Photo: Tom Cotterill

Viv Johnston has said plans being drawn up to improve how the UK monitors suicide rates among ex-forces personnel must not be sidelined by the result of the Tory leadership debate.

The fallout of the battle between Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt could see a shake-up of the government’s cabinet – including top ministerial roles at the Ministry of Defence.

But Mrs Johnson, whose son Danny Johnston killed himself in May last year after serving with the Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment and the army’s elite Special Reconnaissance Regiment, has called on proposals currently in the works to be continued under a future government.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

‘We need a cast-iron guarantee, that whoever becomes prime minister – and if that leads to a change of defence secretary – these plans won’t be dropped,’ she said.

Last year, an investigation by The News revealed Britain had no system in place to monitor how many veterans take their own lives each year.

Campaigners have since called on the government to force coroners to record the number of military leaves killing themselves, with mental health and forces charities saying this information would be critical in saving lives.

Mrs Johnston, of Bognor Regis, is a patron of Portsmouth-based armed forces support charity All Call Signs and said the armed forces community had been frustrated over Whitehall’s ‘lack of interest’. ‘I do worry politicians are starting to jump onto the veterans’ bandwagon,’ she added. ‘The government is ignoring the veterans community.’