COMMENT: Delay over recording veteran suicides is unforgivable

They served their country - but now it appears that their country, or more specifically the Ministry of Defence, is not serving them.

Tuesday, 16th October 2018, 5:38 pm
Updated Tuesday, 16th October 2018, 6:45 pm

The News has been leading calls for the government to do more to tackle worrying veteran suicide rates.  

It follows our investigation that revealed the MoD didn't keep any records of ex-service personnel who, traumatised by what they had experienced, ended up taking their own lives.

But months after campaigners demanded changes to bring the UK in line with the likes of America, Australia, Germany and Canada, who do record suicides, we are still in the same deeply unsatsifactory situation of having no official data.

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We know this because Portsmouth South MP Stephen Morgan, a supporter of our campaign, tabled a parliamentary question on the matter.

He wanted to know what 'discussions' the MoD had had with the Ministry of Justice on establishing a new protocol, which would require coroners to record whether a person was a veteran or a serving member of the armed forces when they died.

The answer, from veterans minister Tobias Ellwood, was short but spoke volumes.

'˜No such discussions have taken place,' he admitted.

No wonder veterans feel let down. Why has nothing been done? If a question had not been asked in the House of Commons that required an answer, then we would be none the wiser.

It's infuriating to discover such inaction from bureaucrats who've been nowhere near a battlefield.

We really should keep records of all those whose psychological scars leave them in such a dark place that they have to find a way out.

The government clearly sees the importance of the issue of people taking their own lives. Only last week Theresa May appointed Jackie Doyle-Price as this country's first suicide prevention minister.

So why is there such unforgiveable feet-dragging when it comes to veterans?