A comprehensive statistical study of the deaths of personnel deployed to the Falklands since the end of the conflict has been published in the UK. The study, by Britain’s Defense Analytical Services and Advice (DASA) was published on Tuesday 14 May and is the first of its kind.
According to the study, 25,948 UK Armed Forces personnel served in the Falklands Campaign; 237 personnel died during the campaign; 1,335 Falklands veterans have died since 1982 and 95 of these deaths (veterans and in-service) were attributable to suicide and open verdict deaths.
There had been concerns that more Falklands veterans had taken their own lives since the conflict than died in action. However, the statistics show that 7% of the deaths of Falklands’ veterans since the campaign were attributed to suicide, significantly less than the number of deaths during the campaign.
“Every suicide is a tragedy and our thoughts remain with the families and relatives of all those lost who bravely served in the Falklands conflict”, said a MOD spokesperson on presentation of the study.
Whilst the extensive study suggests that the rate of suicide amongst those who served in the conflict is in fact lower than the UK civilian population, “we are clear that the mental health of our personnel and veterans remains a top priority. That is why we have committed £7.2 million to ensure we have extensive mental health support in place for everyone who needs it”.
This includes tailored NHS mental health services and a 24-hour helpline with Combat Stress so Service personnel and veterans can seek help at any time.
“We would encourage any Falklands veterans or serving personnel who need help to come forward to access the wide range of support available”, added the spokesperson.
The MOD has been working with the Department of Health to implement the recommendations in Dr Andrew Murrison’s report, Fighting Fit; A Mental Health Plan for Servicemen and Veterans.
Highlights include the extension of military mental healthcare to qualifying Service leavers for up to 6 months after discharge and the uplift in the numbers of mental healthcare professionals. Others include setting up a 24-hour helpline with Combat Stress so Service personnel and veterans can seek help at any time, and making available access to the Big White Wall well-being website for Service personnel, their families and veterans.
Some ex-Service personnel delay seeking help on service termination because of the view that civilian health professionals do not understand military life and the context of their problems.
A key aim is therefore provision of services for veterans which are multifaceted, including both healthcare interventions and social support, and involve public and charitable organizations working together. The government has also provided advice for NHS GPs in the form of an e-learning package for managing veterans’ health issues.
These statistics will continue to be updated and an updated statistical notice will be published in April 2014.