Earlier this week, people around the world commemorated the International Day for Suicide Prevention. And while suicide is a tragedy that touches all Canadians, it is important to recognize that some groups are especially vulnerable.
As the Liberal Veterans Affairs critic, I am especially attuned to how this issue affects our serving Canadian Forces members and veterans.
Those of us who have never served, or seen war or conflict have no idea how profound the impact these experiences have on the men and women of the Canadian Forces.
But for those who have served Canada over the course of our history, from the First World War through to present day Afghanistan, their experiences are real; they have witnessed the horrors. It isn’t a movie for them, it’s real.
When we send troops to places to confront dangerous situations, we have a duty to provide them with the best equipment, resources and training to fulfill their missions.
And just as we have an obligation to provide our armed forces with the best equipment, we also have an obligation to provide the best services, including mental health services, when men and women struggle to cope with what they have seen and have experienced. A fellow soldier killed, a friend who witnesses it, and survives, but his heart and mind are wounded – these are profound consequences of war and conflict.
We know suicide is a problem. Young men and women are suffering, and some see suicide as the only option. We must do more to help them, to support them, and provide the very best care in order to prevent suicide.
All of us are saddened when a soldier commits suicide. We are all aware of the death of Corporal Langridge, for example. He committed suicide after serving in Afghanistan, and his case is subject to an ongoing Military Police Complaints Commission hearing. We do not have all the facts in this case, but something seems to be wrong, and we hope for full account of all facts and evidence. Today though, as we reflect on his death and others who have committed suicide, we are reminded that war and conflict is an awful thing. For those men and women who serve, they assuredly deserve not only our respect and honour, but also our support when their wounds are not often so obvious.
Liberal Critic for Veterans Affairs