Liberal government to track veteran suicides as part of new prevention strategy
Suicides among soldiers and veterans have been growing concern since end of Afghan war
By Murray Brewster, CBC News Posted: Oct 05, 2017 11:45 AM ET Last Updated: Oct 05, 2017 10:17 PM ET
The Liberal government is looking to develop a more comprehensive picture of how many veterans take their own lives after leaving the military.
Getting better data on the scope of the tragedies is one of the pillars of a suicide prevention strategy released on Thursday by National Defence and Veteran Affairs Canada.
Suicides among soldiers and veterans has been a growing concern since the end of the war in Afghanistan.
Since 2010, 130 soldiers have taken their lives, according to National Defence statistics.
“We know each other. We know each other well. We feel every hurt. We feel every suicide, just like any other family,” said Gen. Jonathan Vance, the chief of the defence staff.
Over the past decade or more, the military has been closely tracking and analyzing suicides within the ranks, but Veterans Affairs has struggled to keep track of deaths once a soldier, sailor or aircrew member takes off their uniform.
“We have to do better,” said newly appointed Veterans Minister Seamus O’Regan. “We recognize the dire need for a suicide-prevention strategy.”
“It is difficult for me. It is difficult for our department. It is difficult for all Canadians to hear that our military men and woman and our veterans are taking their own lives.”
Starting in December, Veterans Affairs, in conjunction with Statistics Canada, will begin reporting on the rates of suicides among veterans, something the U.S. has been attempting to do with various studies for years.
“Having the data may help us pinpoint exactly where we have to put certain efforts,” said a senior veterans official, speaking on background prior to the release of the strategy.
“It will help us to better understand what is going on, because today we don’t know.”
Federal governments — both Liberal and Conservative — have poured millions of dollars per year into operational stress injury clinics across the country and counseling support.
Understanding how many suicides are taking place and where will make a big difference.
“We receive resources to put somewhere and we put it based on geographic location and a critical mass of veterans,” the official said. “There’s an analysis done from a megadata point of view of where we should put our resources, but I really don’t know if I’m putting them in the right places sometimes.”
Read the full article at CBC.