Minister for Defence People and Veterans, Leo Docherty, announced yesterday (21st September) that the government will start officially counting veteran suicides in order to better target support for those in need.
The first annual statistics are expected to be published in 2023.
Jeff Harrison, Interim Chief Executive at Combat Stress, said: “It’s vital that as a nation we better understand the mental health of our veterans, who have given so much in their service. We have been calling on the government for several years now to record the suicides of veterans so that essential veterans’ mental health services such as Combat Stress have a better understanding of the scale of the issue. Every veteran suicide is a tragedy, so we welcome this step forward, which will improve the government’s ability to officially record the numbers of ex-service personnel who take their lives. Knowing the scale and extent of the difficulties veterans face is an important first step in understanding how to address these issues.
“Given the increased rates of suicide in veterans reported from nations involved in similar conflicts to us over the last 20 years (namely, the US, Canada and Australia), we welcome the release of data exploring the extent of suicide within UK veterans. Translating this information into better prevention is the next step and we welcome working with the Office for Veterans Affairs to do this”.