Ryan Smith 4 SCOTS

Armed Forces Suicides Generate Internet Call To Action

Former 4 SCOTS Corporal Ryan “Smudge” Smith had served in Afghanistan.

Ryan Smith 4 SCOTS

The veteran's family are now raising money for his funeral. (Image: Gofundme via Liz Laird).

An Armed Forces veteran who took his own life has led to an internet call of action from veteran groups.

Former 4 SCOTS Corporal Ryan “Smudge” Smith – who served in Afghanistan – died on Monday.

The SCOTS Regimental Association say Ryan is the third soldier from the battalion to take his life in recent weeks.

Gofundme page has been created to help Ryan’s family with the cost of a funeral and has reached £2,465.

Liz Laird, a friend of Ryan's, created the Gofundme with the message: "We have lost our amazing friend Ryan.

"He has been taken from us all way too soon, and there will be an irreplaceable hole in so many of our lives now.  He leaves behind so many people who adore him and who are going to miss him every single day. 

"He was discharged from the Army with PTSD and unfortunately, life became too much for him and could not go on any longer.  

"It is now time for Ryan’s family’s to shortly arrange his funeral. I am reaching out to you all to ask if you will donate towards helping with the cost, no matter how small.

"Every penny will go to his family so that this awful time they are having to go through can be made a little easier."

Ryan Smith 4 SCOTS

The SCOTS Regimental Association, whose members are former soldiers of the Royal Regiment of Scotland posted on Facebook that "action" needs to be taken.  It said: 

"Due to recent events of the unfortunate passing away of 3 of our own, (Alistair McLeish) (Jamie “Delta Davies”) and (Ryan “Smudge” Smith) we as an Association need to take ACTION!

"We need to try and prevent another one of our brothers feeling that they have to take the drastic decision of taking their own life.

"We all need to come together to show our support and resolve to help and assist our friends and their families that are going through this difficult time and that they are not alone however we need the support from all of the SCOTS community.

"We as an Association will also be looking at reaching out to all the veteran charities and Governmental departments to take action to this ever growing problem.

"I am sure we all agree that it is now getting out of hand."

An MoD spokesperson said: "Any suicide is a tragedy and we take each case extremely seriously.

"We’re absolutely committed to helping our soldiers, sailors, and airmen and women who are struggling with their mental health and have a range of support available.

"This includes our specialist Defence Community Mental Health Units, increased spending on mental health provision and the 24/7 military mental health hotline.

"While the vast majority of veterans go on to have happy, healthy and successful lives, extensive support is available for individuals struggling with their mental health.

"This includes specialist NHS medical support, the Veterans’ Gateway a one stop shop for veterans in need of help, and significant charity sector support.”  

Meanwhile, a petition posted on the Parliament website has reached more than 8,000 signatures and states that suicides by veterans should be recorded as such by all UK Coroners.

Coroners in the UK do not currently have to record suicides by veterans differently from any other suicide, meaning that the rate of suicides in ex-service personnel is not easily tracked.

The petition also reads: "There is evidence that a disturbing number of Veterans from the most recent conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan are taking or attempting to take their own lives."

An MoD spokesperson added that the UK regular Armed Forces male rate of suicide for 2017 was 8 per 100,000. The UK general population male rate in 2016 was 19 per 100,000. And pointed out that they had recently increased spending on mental health in the Armed Forces to £22 million a year.

For more information or help via Combat Stress, visit www.combatstress.org.uk or contact 0800 138 1619 or 0800 323 4444.

The Samaritans can also be contacted 24/7, 365 days a year by dialling 116 123 on a UK phone or, if you are overseas, by emailing [email protected].