An absence of official records of suicides among Britain’s 2.6m military veterans led to the Government being accused of turning “a blind eye” to concerns last year.
After months of investigation by JPIMedia, families devastated by the suicides of ex-service personnel joined veterans who had battled overwhelming mental health problems in uniting behind a call for change.
The investigation, which made headlines nationwide in July, uncovered concerns that suicide rates were spiralling among those who had left the forces.
Allied nations like the US, Australia and Canada all record the number of veteran suicides and charity leaders say official figures would be vital in working out how best to help traumatised war heroes.
The lack of recording led ex-Royal Marine Simon Maryan, of support group Veterans Against Suicide, to say: “Not recording these figures makes it very easy for the MoD to turn a blind eye.
“How can they tackle a problem if they don’t know its scale and nature?”
Several coroners backed calls for a such information to be held in a readily accessible format.
In a major victory for our campaign, the Government said in October it would begin a new study into suicide rates among those who served in Iraq and Afghanistan between 2001 and 2014.
Defence Minister Tobias Ellwood said the Government could not afford to be complacent over mental health and the study would further understanding of veteran wellbeing.
According to NHS figures, some 21,190 veterans were referred for psychological therapies in 2017/18, up 2,000 in 12 months.
If you are affected by any of the issues raised by this article, help and advice is available from these organisations:
Veterans Gateway: 0808 802 1212 (24 hours a day, 7 days a week)
Veterans UK: 0808 1914218 (8am to 5pm, Monday to Friday)
Samaritans: 116 123 (24 hours a day, 7 days a week)
Combat Stress: 0800 138 1619 (24 hours a day, 7 days a week)
Help for Heroes: 01980 844280 (weekdays, between 9am and 5pm
Royal British Legion: 0808 802 8080 (8am to 8pm, 7 days a week)