Petition For all Suicides by Veterans to be recorded as Veterans by all UK Coroners

At the moment Coroners in the UK do not have to keep records of suicides by Veterans even though several Coroners back the calls for such data to be kept in a readily accessible format therefore we don't know if the rates given within studies are higher or lower than civialian suicides.

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There is evidence that a disturbing number of Veterans from the most recent conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan are taking or attempting to take their own lives.

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Government responded

This response was given on 5 September 2018

The Chief Coroner, who provides leadership and support to coroners in England and Wales, has issued guidance to assist with their conclusions, and with a view to achieving greater consistency.

Read the response in full

The guidance provides a suggested approach to making public findings clear, accessible and complete. It also assists in the process of recording for statistical purposes. The guidance is available at https://www.judiciary.uk/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/guidance-no-17-conclusions.pdf.

The Government takes the welfare of service personnel and veterans very seriously. The Ministry of Defence publishes studies on the causes of death, including suicide, of veterans from the 1982 Falklands war: (https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/307098/20140428_Falklands_Statistical_Release-1982to2013.pdf);

The MOD also publishes similar research on veterans from the 1990/91 Gulf war: (https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/517240/20160125-Gulf_March16_REVISED_O.pdf).

Both studies show that the suicide rates amongst veterans were lower than comparative rates in the civilian population. In addition, Lord Ashcroft’s Veterans’ Transition Review (2014) found that service leavers are no more likely to commit suicide than the rest of the population.

Nonetheless, the Government’s National Suicide Prevention Strategy includes veterans as a group requiring tailored approaches to meet their mental health needs to reduce their risk of suicide. In 2017, NHS England launched Transition, Intervention and Liaison services, which increase access and treatment to appropriate and timely mental health services for both serving Armed Forces personnel approaching discharge and veterans with mental health difficulties. This is complemented by the launch of NHS England’s Veterans’ Mental Health Complex Treatment Service in April 2018, which provides an enhanced service for veterans who have military attributable complex mental health problems that were not resolved earlier in the care/support pathway.

Veterans can also access support services from: www.gov.uk/mental-health-support-for-the-uk-armed-forces, call the 24-hour veterans' mental health helpline on 0800 138 1619 or access the Veterans Gateway: https://www.veteransgateway.org.uk/.

In addition, almost every local authority in England has a multi-agency suicide prevention plan in place so that all services who come into contact with people at risk of suicide work together to implement tailored approaches to reducing suicides in their communities.

Building on this work, in May 2018 NHS England, Public Health England and the Department of Health and Social Care launched the first year of a three year programme to support suicide prevention, allocating funds to eight sustainability and transformation partnerships with the highest suicide rates, or significantly high rates in men (press release and details here: https://www.england.nhs.uk/2018/05/suicide-prevention-and-reduction/)

The Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service and the Coroners Service for Northern Ireland are responsible for the investigation of sudden and unexplained deaths in Scotland and Northern Ireland respectively.

Ministry of Justice.

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Other parliamentary business

MPs want to hear your views on mental health care within the Armed Forces community

A group of MPs who form the Defence Committee are looking into the mental health care services available to Service men and women, veterans and their families.

To help them with their investigation, they would like to hear people’s experiences of using these services.

You can tell them what you think is important. You can also think about a few of these questions:

• Do you know about the mental health services available to you as a serving or former member of the Armed Forces or as a family member?
• If you are a veteran, did your GP and other NHS doctors understand what you needed and what you were entitled to?
• If you or your family member has sought help, where did you go for treatment and why?
• Did you receive the care and support you needed quickly?
• Were there any specific things you would like to have seen as part of your care as a serving or former member of the Armed Forces?
• What worked well?
• What would be your one recommendation for improvement for the Committee to think about?

Tell the Committee what you think here: https://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/defence-committee/inquiries/parliament-2017/inquiry15/commons-written-submission-form/.

We know that what you say might contain sensitive personal information, so the Committee will not publish what you say in full. Instead, the Committee will publish a detailed review summarising the experiences of all those they hear from, which will include the key themes and use anonymised quotes as examples of what the Committee has seen. The Committee may also use anonymised examples to use in the report.

The Committee can’t look at individual cases. If you need confidential advice and support for your or a family member’s mental health issues, you can call Combat Stress’ 24-hour mental health helpline.

• Veterans and their families can call 0800 138 1619
• Serving personnel and their families can call 0800 323 4444

Find out more here:

https://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/defence-committee/inquiries/parliament-2017/inquiry15

What the Committee have found so far:

• The number of Service men and women reporting mental health problems has increased significantly over the last ten years, but most Service men and women still leave with no mental health problems
• Some groups – such as soldiers in combat roles and Reservists – are more likely to develop mental health problems following deployment to Afghanistan or Iraq.
• There are many gaps in the data across the UK, particularly on veterans’ mental health and suicides.

The Committee also found that it still takes too long for veterans to get treatment when they need it and what they can get depends on where they live in the UK. The full report can be found here:
https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201719/cmselect/cmdfence/813/813.pdf.

What is the Defence Committee?

The Defence Committee looks at and questions how the UK Government’s Ministry of Defence:
• is run
• spends money
• decides on its policies
It's a cross-party committee and is independent of the Government.

You can find out more about the Defence Committee on its website:
http://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/defence-committee/

You can follow the Defence Committee on Twitter: @CommonsDefence

This is a House of Commons ‘select committee’. Find out how select committees work: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o_2RDuDs44c&feature=youtu.be

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