COMMENT: Veterans’  suicide rates must be fully investigated

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The Ministry of Defence has finally said it will look into suicide rates among veterans.

At a time when it is fashionable to kick the ‘mainstream media’, this is one victory that we can claim to have played no small part in, and it is unlikely to have come about without the power of the press.

As the home of the navy, The News, and its parent company Johnston Press, has lobbied hard on the issue, launching a campaign back in July.

We have been calling on the MoD to work with coroners to track the data relating to suicides by veterans from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

When we launched the campaign, the House of Commons defence committee published its latest study on the scale of the issue, warning that the number of armed forces personnel seeking help had almost doubled since 2008.

But with little done to monitor the ongoing problem, campaigners fear this number is hugely underestimating the numbers.

It’s nothing short of a scandal that our veterans can be left battling PTSD, depression and other mental health problems alone. With more data, health professionals and charities will be able to gain a clearer picture of the scale of the problem veterans face.

If the US, Australia and Canada are able to record these figures, why haven’t we been able to do it?

Coming so soon after World Mental Health Day on October 10, it highlights how these are issues that don’t just surface for that day or a week.

For those who have mental health problems, they are a 24/7 condition that sufferers have to live with full-time.

As Sue Freeth, chief executive of armed forces mental health charity Combat Stress says: ‘Every life is precious and we want to do all we can to prevent former servicemen and women taking their own lives.’