General Lord Dannatt Furious as MoD Refuses to Fund Suicide Helpline

Posted on January 31, 2018

Former Army chief’s fury as MoD refuses to fund helpline for suicidal troops

General Lord Dannatt also warned the armed forces needed to undergo a “complete culture change” towards PTSD and other mental illnesses.

A former head of the British Army has launched a blistering attack on the Government for failing mentally traumatised troops and veterans.

General Lord Dannatt also warned the armed forces needed to undergo a “complete culture change” towards PTSD and other mental illnesses.

His comments come as the Sunday People reveals that suicides among serving soldiers have been at the rate of one every three weeks for the past 20 years.

Ministry of Defence figures show 325 servicemen and women suffering took their lives between 1997 and 2016.

Many died on British bases and most were veterans of Ulster, Bosnia and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Inquests found many were being bullied, were sex abuse victims or suffering from PTSD and other mental illness.

Lord Dannatt is furious at the MoD’s refusal to pay £2million to establish a 24/7 helpline – a drop in the ocean compared to £89million for one Typhoon fighter jet.

He expresses his frustration in an ­article for the People, right. The highly-respected militarian says: “Service ­personnel who need help outside working hours are advised to contact their nearest A&E or se the Combat Stress Helpline – unacceptable.

“I raised this with Defence Minister Tobias Ellwood. The MoD’s response was it would be £2million to establish a service that might be used by less than 50 people annually.

“I don’t accept that ­argument. Surely the lives of up to 50 people annually is worth spending £2million?”

Figures show the highest ­numbers of suicides or “open ­verdict” deaths involved male soldiers under the age of 20.

Almost half were caused by hanging, strangulation or suffocation, while 17 per cent were by gunshot wounds or ­explosives. But the actual figures for self-inflicted deaths in the military community are far higher because the MoD does not record suicides among veterans.

The US began to collate ­suicides among ex-servicemen when it became clear more veterans had killed themselves than the 50,000 men who died in Vietnam.

The mental health of Britain’s servicemen and women has become an increasing concern following the disclosure of rising levels of PTSD and homelessness among veterans. The Sunday People has led the way in demanding help with our tireless Save Our Soldiers campaign.

Veterans charities believe as many as 13,000 former personnel could be living on the streets, many of them mentally ill.

In the past five years the MoD has medically discharged almost 2,000 ­soldiers diagnosed with mental health problems. In 2012 it emerged the suicide toll was higher than those killed in battle. Some 21 soldiers and 29 veterans killed themselves that year, compared with 44 troops who died in Afghanistan. The deaths recorded in the MoD file include PTSD sufferer Lance Sgt Dan Collins, 29, who hanged himself after being shot twice and being lifted off his feet by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan. The Welsh Guardsman was mortified after pal Dane Elson, 22, was blown up.

Also recorded are the suicides of five male and one female soldier while based in Basra during the Iraq war.

And Pte Gary Boswell took his own life while on leave from Iraq in 2004 after being prescribed anti-depressants. The 20-year-old, from Milford Haven, Pembrokeshire, was found hanged in a playground. His mother Sarah felt he may have been in despair because he felt unable to talk about Iraq.

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