Recent investigations which revealed soldiers had committed suicide, including that of Sgt James Byrne, 29, a victim of post-traumatic stress disorder, from Huddersfield, West Yorks
Image: MEN’S MEDIA)
It is feared that more than 2,000 British soldiers and veterans have committed suicide since the Afghan invasion, the people can reveal.
Tonight, charities and support groups warned that the fall of Kabul to the Taliban had taken its toll on the mental health of the forces.
A veteran support group claims that up to six ex-members of the armed forces have died since the capital fell on August 15.
Veterans United Against Suicide estimates its figure of 2,000 suspected suicides since 2001 may be an underestimate.
No government organization records the suicides of ex-combatants. Jim Wilde of VUAS, a former Army Warrant Officer 1st Class, said last month’s heartbreaking frontline dispatches from Afghanistan hit former soldiers who served hard there.
He said: âVUAS has been recording our military suicides since 2017. Since then, there has been an average of 90 suicides per year, which includes both serving military and veterans.
âWith that number in mind, there could be as many as 2,000 casualties since 2001.
“In 2001 our armed forces were considerably larger – so this is almost certainly a conservative estimate.”
Recent inquiries which revealed soldiers had committed suicide, including that of Sgt James Byrne, 29, a victim of post-traumatic stress disorder, of Huddersfield, West Yorks.
The Bradford Coroner heard that James bravely fought PTSD for a decade after serving in the Afghan conflict with the 1st Battalion of the First Rifles.
Despite his excellence in operations and boxing, James’ mental state collapsed and he was put on the Severe Mental Health Registry.
He was found in May after leaving a farewell message. More than 200 have left him tributes.
His uncle John Doyle said: “I feel so sad today, James, thinking of you as a child growing up with the rest of our lot.”
The Sunday People called for better mental health support with the Save Our Soldiers campaign.
Government ministers have recognized that the Afghan crisis could have major implications for the mental health of former British staff.
Armed Forces Minister and Afghanistan Veteran James Heappey said: âThis cohort of Afghanistan veterans will feel more vulnerable. They will wonder if their service was worth it.
âI’m very scared of what this means for the veterans community. We must continue to tell them that what they have done they should be proud of. “