Suicide rates among soldiers flat, but PTSD's expected to increase: military doc - Macleans.ca
 

Suicide rates among soldiers flat, but PTSD’s expected to increase: military doc


 

OTTAWA – Despite the suicides of three Afghan war veterans this week, a military psychiatrist says there has not been a recent increase in suicide rates among Canadian Forces members.

But the numbers of soldiers dealing with the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder are expected to rise within the next decade as the stress of combat takes hold in those who have returned from the fighting in Afghanistan, Col. Rakesh Jetly said Friday.

That is a troubling prospect as the military grapples with the latest rash of suicides, which are shining a spotlight on the programs the military has available for dealing with cases of PTSD.

Critics have also questioned how the Canadian Forces tracks suicides among its members, and whether the numbers paint an accurate picture.

The military doesn’t include suicides among reservists in the data, even though it keeps tabs on them, leading to speculation that the actual rates may be much higher.

“We track them, we have them, we do investigate. If a Class B reservist (completes a suicide) we’ll do an investigation there as well.” Jetly told a teleconference Friday.

“The problem is, it’s been very, very difficult for us within the organization to actually accurately capture reservists,” he explained.

“We’re just afraid that if we just sort of start trying to tabulate them that the numbers will be misleading.”

The latest suicide case involved a senior non-commissioned officer at Canadian Forces Base Petawawa, northwest of Ottawa.

Military police are investigating. The army has identified the victim as Warrant Officer Michael McNeil of 3rd Battalion, Royal Canadian Regiment.

The Defence Department is also probing the deaths of two other soldiers in Western Canada.

Friends have identified one soldier as Master Cpl. William Elliott. Authorities will only say they are investigating the death Tuesday of a soldier at a home just outside CFB Shilo in Manitoba.

An artillery soldier also died in hospital Monday after he was found in distress at a correctional centre in Lethbridge, Alberta. The man, identified by friends as Travis Halmrast, was being held on charges of domestic assault when he died.

Defence Minister Rob Nicholson noted Thursday that the government has poured millions of dollars into treatment and counselling programs for soldiers returning from combat since 2011.

Still, he called the latest deaths “very troubling.”

While Canada continuously looks to other countries to see what programs they use to help reduce suicide rates, Jetly said many of those other countries look to Canada for examples of programs that work.

Opposition critics, however, say the government has not put enough resources into programs that would prevent suicides.

“We need a system in place to ensure that we can identify where the failing is,” said New Democrat MP Matthew Kellway. “At this point in time it’s not clear that we have that system.”

The Defence Department has not released suicide figures for last year, but the latest figures show that 22 full-time members took their own lives in 2011.

Liberal defence critic Joyce Murray urged the Canadian Forces to bolster programs for family members of soldiers returning from combat.

“There are severe stresses on the families that are not adequately addressed,” she said. “So when a person is injured in service, that adds stress. I think having more supports for the family, there’s clearly a call for that.”


 
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Suicide rates among soldiers flat, but PTSD’s expected to increase: military doc

  1. The headline implies that suicide rate is flat yet the writer fails to tell us the number. By comparison, StatsCan has published a rate of 11.5 suicides per thousand deaths in 2009. C’mon Maclean’s do your job and give us the facts so we can draw our own conclusions! BTW, the REAL story is that mean commit suicide at over 3 times the rate of women (17.9 vs 5.3).

    • More men in jobs which would led to PTSD and less likely to seek help?

      • Nope…Stats Canada employment stats (000’s)…Total – 17, 508 Men – 9,188 Women – 8,320

      • Men may be less likely to seek help because of the repercussions.
        Jan Wong went on stress or mental health leave from, I think, the Globe and Mail. In order to get
        disability pay she was asked to sign a medical release of information
        to the insurance company. That shouldn’t be a problem with a
        physical condition. However, in a mental health case, that means
        potentially, your employer or insurance company can pore over
        your psychiatric records, know everything about you, maybe things
        you are embarrassed about and have never told anyone else. Who
        would seek help under those circumstances?
        In the end, Jan Wong wouldn’t sign the release, she didn’t get disability
        pay and she was terminated by the paper. And then she wrote a book.
        So they say they are encouraging people to seek help, but in a
        backhanded way, they are discouraging it.

  2. “The problem is, it’s been very, very difficult for us within the
    organization to actually accurately capture reservists,” he explained.”

    Quite remarkable. DND is unable to order reserve units to report when a member has killed himself. You’d think someone would want that info if only to free up a spot for a recruit.

  3. https://soundcloud.com/jameswcousineau/we-will-be-there-1

    This song
    was written for our troops. Hang in there we love and respect all you do for us.
    I co-wrote this song several years ago and recorded the track at Bryan Adams’
    Warehouse studios to raise funds for fallen soldiers and soldiers suffering
    from injuries. I truly understand what lack of resources there are out there
    for people suffering from PTSD and depression. Although well managed now with
    daily medication and a better understanding of the illness, I get through each
    day now looking forward to the next day. That was not always the case. This
    track is to support our troops and let them know that we do care.

    Another especially important track on the CD for the Troops
    was a song titled, “And Then Some” by fellow Canadian musician, Chris LeBlanc.
    The song tells of a man who is contemplating suicide and runs into a man on the
    street. He thinks the man is a bum and begging for change. Instead finds the
    man is a vet who had been held as a POW and see’s the pain in the young mans
    face. The lyrics are about the struggles they are dealing with. It turns out in
    the track that the young man was going to go home and kill himself that day but
    the vet saved his life through the conversation they had. The final part of the
    song is that the story being told is actually to someone on the suicide hotline
    and he says, “So son, please put down the gun because I’ve been there and then
    some”. This is a very powerful song that tells a very timely message to our
    troops and anyone dealing with emotional and mental health issues. Please take
    time to listen to the tracks. The CD is still available on Amazon, iTunes,
    Google Play and other online retailers for either purchase of a physical CD or
    instant download. Funds are still going toward the men and women of the forces
    in Canada, The United States
    and the UK
    depending on the geographical location of purchase.

    Sincerely,

    James Cousineau

    Writer / Producer / Manager

    Going Viral Productions

    jameswcousineau@gmail.com

    (778) 908-2811 – 24 hours Mobile Number

    Picture of James Cousineau and former British PM, Tony Blair
    when James presented Mr. Blair with a pre-release copy of the CD For The
    Troops.

    • Take the commercial to your facebook page.

  4. I just love how they are ignoring reservists. Good enough to serve overseas, and die doing so, but once you’re back in Canada … buh-bye … don’t let the door hit you on the ass on your way out as they slam it on you …