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Veterans: Suicide

Question for Ministry of Defence

UIN 226549, tabled on 27 February 2019

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what information his Department holds on the number of UK veterans who have committed suicide (a) in the most recent year for which information is available and (b) in the last five years.

Answered on

4 March 2019

The Government takes the welfare of Service personnel and veterans very seriously. Any suicide is one too many and a tragedy for the individual, and their family and friends. Whilst we recognise this is a problem in wider society, we take the wellbeing of our Armed Forces very seriously.

Suicide data for veterans of the UK Armed Forces is not currently captured by the Government. The recently announced Veterans Strategy will seek to improve data collection of the veteran community.

The Ministry of Defence (MOD) has commissioned a new study to investigate causes of death, including suicide, amongst all those who served in the UK Armed Forces between 2001 and 2014, covering combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan at this link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/new-study-into-iraq-and-afghanistan-veterans-launched

This will include personnel who are still in service, and personnel who have now transitioned into civilian life.

The MOD also publishes studies on the causes of death, including suicide, of veterans from the 1982 Falklands war at the following links:

https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/causes-of-deaths-among-the-uk-armed-forces-veterans-of-the-1982-falklands-campaign

and from the 1990-91 Gulf war

https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/causes-of-deaths-that-occurred-among-the-uk-veterans-of-the-199091-gulf-conflict

Both studies show that the suicide rates amongst veterans were lower than comparative rates in the civilian population.

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