Depression among British soldiers triples as mental health crisis grips forces

The toll of British soldiers discharged because of depression has tripled in six years.

Ministry of Defence figures show 104 personnel were discharged with depression in 2017-18, up from 32 in 2012-13.

The number who quit the Army with mental health issues such as post-traumatic stress disorder and anxiety also rose from 188 in 2012-13 to 428 in 2017-18.

The suicide rate in the ­forces and among ­veterans also seems to be rising. Last year more than 80 veterans are believed to have taken their lives.

Seven service personnel are believed to have committed suicide in the first seven weeks of 2019 – almost half the total who killed themselves in 2018.

And five veterans are believed to have taken their lives so far this year.

Ex-Royal Marine Jeff Williams, who runs Veterans United Against Suicide, said: “Dumping mentally ill troops on streets is an outrage. They should be treated the same as the physically wounded.”

Former Royal Marine Colour Sergeant Lee Walters, 44, was finally diagnosed with PTSD after attempting to hang himself.

Iraq veteran Lee was shot three times in the face and hand in Afghanistan in 2010. Later that tour two of his pals were killed. “I developed survivor’s guilt,” said Lee.

He had put his head in a noose when a friend walked in to rescue him – a friend who Lee had saved from suicide a year earlier.

Lee got specialist medical treatment for the next two years and was medically discharged in 2015. He now has a partner and daughter and works as a sea kayak guide.

The MoD said: “We have increased ­mental health spending to £22million a year, launched a 24-hour hotline for personnel and our well-being strategy is aimed at tackling any stigma around asking for help.”

If you need to speak to someone, Samaritans are available 24/7 by calling 116 123 or by emailing  [email protected]

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