More British soldiers and veterans took their own lives in 2012 than died fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan over the same period. BBC Panorama learned that 21 serving soldiers killed themselves last year, along with 29 veterans. The Afghanistan death toll was 44, of whom 40 died in action.
Some of the soldiers’ families say the men did not get enough support. The Ministry of Defence (MoD) said every suicide was a “tragedy”. The Panorama programme obtained the figure of 21 through a Freedom of Information request to the MoD. The MoD said that rates of suicide and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) within the serving military were lower than comparative rates in the civilian population.
Seven serving soldiers have been confirmed as having killed themselves last year, and inquests are pending for a further 14 deaths where suicide is suspected. The British government, unlike its American counterpart, does not record the suicide rate among ex-soldiers. But Panorama has independently established that at least 29 veterans took their own lives in 2012.
It wrote to every coroner in the country to ask for the names of soldiers and veterans who killed themselves last year and also analysed newspaper reports of coroners’ inquests.
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