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Driven to suicide by the horror of war

Coleman Bean served two tours of duty for the US Military in Iraq. But what he witnessed there haunted him. He shot himself at home in 2008. He was 25.

Army Sergeant Coleman Bean
Army Sergeant Coleman Bean Credit: US Military

Coleman Bean's mother, Linda Bean said: "I was willing to overlook changes in behaviour... It's hard to know you didn't do what you should have done... That's hard to live with."

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Nearly 3,000 serving personnel diagnosed with mental health problems last year

New figures released by the Ministry of Defence reveal that 2,877 members of the Armed Forces were diagnosed with mental health disorders last year.

The MoD's mental health report also revealed:

  • There were 968 new cases diagnosed between October and December 2011.
  • Rate of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) were significantly higher among those who had been deployed to Afghanistan or Iraq.
  • The MoD says PTSD remains a rare condition affecting 0.3 out of 1,000 service personnel.
  • But King's College has put the figure far higher at 4% based on their research that measures cases based on surveys as opposed to the MoD’s method of only registering cases that come forward.
  • Five per 1,000 diagnosed with a mental disorder in the last quarter of 2011.
  • The Army and the RAF were found to have a higher rate than the Navy and Marines.
  • Rates of mental disorders were higher in females than males.

The MoD has told ITV News that mental health care is a top priority.

The Forgotten Fallen? soldiers affected by mental disorder

In 2010, 3,942 UK Armed Forces personel were assessed with a mental disorder:

  • 1,568 were adjustment disorders [adapting to a significant life change]
  • 835 were a depressive episode
  • 249 were post-traumatic stress disorder

The British military provides mental health care in the UK through 15 Departments of Community Mental Health.

(Source: MoD)

The Forgotten Fallen? 'Was it all worth it?'

Professor Simon Wessely from King's College London is a leading expert on mental health problems in the military.

Every year in Afghanistan we're going to create more cases of post-traumatic stress disorder. The other worry is when this is over what will happen if society doesn't see it [the operation in Afghanistan] as something we're proud of or successful in? People start to think, was it all worth it... what did we achieve?

You can hear more from Professor Simon Wessely on today's ITV News at 1:30.

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The Forgotten Fallen? The scale of mental trauma

In 2010 a report in the medical journal, The Lancet, warned of a potential surge in cases of soldiers suffering mental trauma. It said:

  • Up to 4 per cent of troops who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan could suffer PTSD
  • Most post-traumatic stress disorder victims show signs of the illness within a decade
  • It means around 7,000 troops could become sufferers

The Forgotten Fallen? Mental health of soldiers 'top priority'

The mental health of service personnel is a top priority and we have robust systems in place to identify and treat those with mental health issues, including when deployed on operations. The MoD's highly experienced mental health professionals deliver high quality treatment at the Department of Community Mental Health both in the UK and overseas. MoD has, however, robust procedures in place to address any concerns expressed by service persons as to the standard of care they receive. Due to patient confidentiality, it is not appropriate to comment on individual cases.

– Ministry of Defence
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