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MOD To Investigate Suicide Rates Of Troops Who Served In Afghanistan And Iraq

It follows concern about an upsurge in mental health problems amongst former soldiers in the last decade.

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Library picture of troops in Afghanistan. (Picture: MOD)

The Ministry of Defence is looking into suicide rates among veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts.  

Cases where former servicemen and women have taken their own lives will be the focus of the research. It will look into the causes of death among those who left the Armed Forces.

It's been reported that more than 40 former or current service personnel are believed to have taken their lives so far this year.

Defence Minister Tobias Ellwood said the "vital" new study will further the MoD's understanding of the "wellbeing of our people so we can continue to provide the best possible care to all who have served".

Mr Ellwood added:

"Our Armed Forces do a magnificent job, and we owe a huge debt of gratitude to each man and woman who has laid their life on the line to keep our country safe. 

"Most transition successfully into civilian life once they have put away their uniforms, but we cannot afford to be complacent. Mental health problems can affect us all, and the wellbeing of our people remains a top priority."

In July the House of Commons Defence Committee published its latest report on the scale of mental health issues in the armed forces.

It warned that the number of Armed Forces men, woman and veterans seeking mental health care had nearly doubled over the past decade.

In particular, there were high levels of those who saw combat in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The MPs said it was still taking "too long" for veterans to access treatment, with some falling through the gaps and availability of care varying in different parts of the UK.

Official Ministry of Defence figures showed that 3.1% of serving personnel are diagnosed with mental health conditions - twice the proportion seen in 2008-2009.

But the committee warned that the number of veterans with conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or depression could be three times higher, at about 10%, amid concern that some may not seek help because of stigma surrounding mental health.

In 2014 a study found that PTSD levels were at 6.9% among regular troops and 6% among reservists.