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Suicide Prevention in the Canadian Forces

Posted by Sean Casey on September 14, 2012 | No Comments

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.

Sean Casey

MP, Charlottetown
Liberal Critic for Veterans Affairs

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  1. Avatar of Reg Reg said on

    Words extremely well put… I just hope that they are not used for political points and positive, concrete change is put in the 2015 platform. Keep up the good work.

  2. Avatar of Dianne Perrier Dianne Perrier said on

    I agree with Reg, the words are very well put, I am sure they are not said for political gain!

    My son serves as a Major in the Airforce as well as his wife, they both have served in Afghanistan. I believe that the Liberal Party has to step up and support the Military as mentioned above and financially so that are forces are combat ready.

    As I myself suffer from PTSD, support aand mental health is not an option but a must have, and it must be there within the reach of a phone call. When in need a soldier or their family needs help “NOW” not in a couple of hours or days, that would be to late!!!

  3. Avatar of Yama Arianfar Yama Arianfar said on

    Wonderful topic indeed! Agree with all comments. Adding to that, I want to emphasis more in preventive measures rather than curative. Take care of the soldiers but why do we send more soldiers to face the same consequences.
    We are not in war with any country. And if two parties are in war we do want to mediate and make peace in between the parties. In our daily life we do mediate and help our friends or neighbors if they have any confrontations. Do we fight against one in support of the other? No, that is not the Canadian way.
    I am not saying that Canada should not take part in peace missions. We have Canadian brilliant minds working in different levels of Afghanistan’s government, for example. Why should we kill and be killed?
    Question! Why are we fighting in Afghanistan? We should ask the government to call our soldiers home.

  4. Avatar of Reg Reg said on

    Unfortunately I have to respectfully disagree with you Yama. Historically Canada has, more often than not, been supportive of “one neighbour” over the other. Our participation in the World Wars, Korean War, commitment to NATO against the WARSAW Pact throughout the Cold War, NATO operations in the Balkans, Afghanistan and Libya all clearly show that Canada has not been a simple neutral/mediating party. It is true Canada has also committed to peace keeping and peace making operations, but it would be naieve to think those deployments were solely out of goodwill and did not incorporate our national interests.

    Fortunately (I believe) that Canadian interests tend to be for the better…. Fighting against Fascism in WWII, fighting against North Korean aggression in Korea, and fighting for those who are unable to adequately defend themselves. These interests also include foreign aid, diplomacy and supporting UN missions.

    Unfortunately we are only human and sometimes what appear to be positive interests have negative repercussions or may even end up being against Canadian interests. However, we do live in a world where it is not always possible to simply mediate between our “neighbours” and it is, unfortunately, in our interest to act against one over the other for the betterment of the world and Canadian society. This requires a capable military conducting operations with various threat levels, which ultimately will lead to soldiers/sailors/airmen and airwomen suffering mentally from terrible experiences. This is not too discredit the need for preventative measures… We as Canadians play the determinant role in what our national interests are by voting and voicing our political will… But there is certainly a dire need (and much better than currently exists) for curative measures to deal with those who suffer from OSI and/or PTSD during unfortunate times when our military is deployed.

    I must stress that I appreciate and respect the dialogue/comments on the subject and simply wish to point out that what many view as the “Canadian Way” (i.e. we’re the world’s peacekeepers and don’t have national interests) is unfortunately a myth that a serious look at history quickly disproves.


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