Two mothers whose sons committed suicide a week apart last month are campaigning to raise awareness of their suicide.
In the United States, suicides in the military have claimed more lives than the fighting.
Soldier Liam Smith suffers terrible mental trauma. He believes the Taliban are in his wardrobe. He's even tried to carve off his face.
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.
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."
- In 2009 more American soldiers were lost to suicide than died in combat
- Currently, one out of every five suicides in the US are among people who have served their country on the battlefield
- The government takes the problem seriously but some war veterans are difficult to find to offer help
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.
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.
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.
The Ministry of Defence says it takes the mental health of soldiers seriously and thousands receive therapy at centres around the country. But, the level of care can vary.
Major John Liddell, Department of Community Mental Health
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
– Ministry of Defence
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.
The father of Liam Smith has revealed some of the shocking details of his son's battle with post-traumatic stress disorder. Glyn Smith says he covered himself in blood and pretended it was camouflage and even stubbed out cigarettes on his skin.