Veterans in Crisis: Northamptonshire coroner supports our appeal to log ex-military suicides
The Coroner for Northamptonshire has backed our calls asking for the suicides of former service personnel to be recorded.
Anne Pember has presided over the county’s inquests for 23 years and recalls a number of cases where post-traumatic stress was a factor in a person’s death.
“It features especially in mental health cases,” she said.
“By that, I mean people who have been sectioned at St Andrews or Berrywood Hospital.
“Sometimes we get cases where people have suffered from flashbacks from their PTSD, which can lead to all kinds of complications.”
But the coroner, like many others across the country - cannot put a firm figure on the number of suicides that related to former military personnel - even though the difficulties of suffering from trauma can manifest themselves in dangerous ways.
The officials, who operate outside of the judiciary and cannot be subject to Freedom of Information requests, are simply not required to log whether an individual has served in the armed forces - even though many case files come with a complete employment history of an individual.
Personal statements given by family members at inquests will also often mention a veteran’s service history.
“Sleeping rough, addiction to alcohol, drugs, total dysfunction and domestic disharmony are common,” Mrs Pember said - in reference to the symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
“If this is a significant problem then those in authority should be aware of it.
“It will help them to offer counselling, advice, support.
“What do people get when they leave the service?
“If they have served their country they deserve to be supported following the horrendous things that they have seen.
“It can lead to a total breakdown.”
Mrs Pember said that, over the past year, she was not aware of any cases of ex-service personnel committing suicide.
Coroners have the power to write letters to organisations under regulation 28 of the Coroners’ Regulations if they believe it can prevent further deaths.
Mrs Pember added that she would consider writing such a report if, in future, there was a link between a person’s death and their military background in a significant number of cases.