Canada: Soldier Suicides Draw Ire over Lack of Veteran Monitoring, Rehabilitation


Two Canadian soldiers and Afghanistan veterans were found dead on March 15 and March 17 — in Quebec and Otario — both in apparent cases of suicide. These deaths follow several in January, bringing the number of confirmed suicides of Canadian soldiers in 2014 to five.

The Department of National Defence published a report in 2013 that indicated Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) suicide rates are similar to those of civilian populations. However, Michael Blais, CEO and director of Canadian Veterans Advocacy, remarked that comparing civilian and soldier suicide rates is “incongruous.”

“To compare a wound that was sustained in a military environment to the [psychological difficulties of someone in the] civilian population, that doesn’t cut it.”

CAF tracks and publishes data on soldier suicides, but the statistics only examine active-duty men, and don’t include reservists, retirees, or women. Veteran Affairs also does not track suicides by retired soldiers, which Blais considers an “obligation.” CAF admits that “the low number of suicides amongst female CAF members makes the statistical analysis of female rates unreliable.”

According to several veteran advocacy groups, this lack of monitoring is not letting CAF, Veterans Affairs, or any other groups help critical populations. Blais says there are “people who are getting out [of service], and within a year, committing suicide.”

Blais and others worry that above all, the scope of PTSD won’t be fully understood until complete data is obtained.

“We can’t fix this unless we know what’s wrong.”

Source: CBC News.

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