Iraq war veteran Rifleman Lance Shingler took his own life after suffering 'harrowing' PTSD, inquest rules

Lance Shingler and his partner Hayley Gough Credit: Hayley Gough

An Iraq War veteran suffering 'harrowing' post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) died after taking an overdose, while heavily intoxicated, a coroner has concluded.

Rifleman Lance Shingler joined the army when he was 16.

After he left in 2007, he struggled to cope with what he witnessed as a soldier.

The Inquest into his death was told that in June 2019, he told mental health workers that "27 of his Army mates had died" when he was serving in Iraq.

He was 34, and living in Solihull with his partner Hayley Gough and their two young children, when he died on February 13, 2020, after he took an overdose.

Lance Shingler with his young family Credit: BPM Media

Lance and Hayley met at work, when she was working at a warehouse where he used to make deliveries.

She says he asked her boss for her number, and although it took him a week to pluck up the courage to text her, once he did, the whirlwind romance began and they were inseparable.

Lance Shingler Credit: BPM Media

It wasn't long before Hayley says she noticed he was having mental health difficulties.

The inquest into his death was told that his traumatic experiences were "many, sustained and varied," leading to complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, aggression, nightmares, extreme flashbacks and suicidal thoughts.

He was diagnosed with PTSD in 2012, although Hayley says she believes both she and Lance didn't really grasp the full extent of his condition.

"He was always told he'd never be cured of it; he'd live with PTSD for the rest of his life. There was nothing out there to help him manage his symptoms or manage his day to day life. But at that point it wasn't really affecting his day to day life so we just went with it and kind of hoped for the best."

There were times when he was full of joy.

Hayley says when they discovered she was pregnant with a boy, he had "the biggest smile I've ever seen someone have," and immediately rushed out to buy boy's clothes for him. She said the bond between father and son was instant, and it was a "beautiful thing" to watch.

Lance Shingler with his two young children Credit: BPM Media

But he tried to take his own life for the first time in 2013.

"There'd be police officers, ambulances in the flat for three, four hours just trying to calm him down.

My kids have seen their dad taken away by ambulance, they've seen their dad cry, they've seen their dad get angry. From my point of view that was heartbreaking for me, I've got to watch the man I love suffer."

She says he'd begged for help, and the inquest heard he was due to have started a course of one-to-one psychiatric treatment, but had it cancelled when Government funding was cut.

Witnesses for Combat Stress told the inquest they tried to get in touch with him by phone, but couldn't reach him, so he was sent a letter telling him he's need to refer himself back to the NHS veterans service. The letter was dated 9th February. 

Five days later, Lance Shingler was dead.

Senior coroner Louise Hunt, concluding a three-day inquest on 14 May, said Mr Shingler had suffered from the "complex" PTSD he was left with after "witnessing harrowing, traumatic incidents" in Iraq.

She said: "I am recording a narrative conclusion, because I am not satisfied that I have sufficient evidence that he intended to take his own life."

"I am going to record that he died from an impulsive intentional overdose, while heavily intoxicated."

His partner Hayley Gough welcomed the coroner's findings.

In a statement after the hearing, she said: "The family believe his death could have been avoided if he had been provided the appropriate care and treatment for his combat-related PTSD."

The veterans' charity  'Combat Stress' says the decision to scale back its services was not one it wanted to take, and that since receiving new funding from the NHS, it has begun taking new referals for veterans.