As families across the country prepare to spend Christmas with their loved ones, for the families of the 71 serving military personnel and veterans who took their own lives in 2018 following mental health struggles, a rather different and more painful day approaches.
The death toll exceeds the number of battlefield fatalities in 11 of the 13 years that British troops were in Afghanistan, ITV News can reveal. The research – compiled by ITV News with the help of veterans’ organisations – found more than one third who took their own lives this year, and whose details are known, had suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) – an anxiety disorder caused by very stressful, frightening or distressing events. Someone with PTSD often relives the traumatic event through nightmares and flashbacks, and may experience feelings of isolation, irritability and guilt. One such sufferer was Warrant Officer Nathan Hunt who took his life on New Year’s Day – the first in a long line of military suicides this year. Following the death of their son, Nathan’s parents say they have “cancelled Christmas this year”. “We just couldn’t sit there around the table, with our other sons and grandkids and celebrate, knowing that he was 10 minutes down the road lying cold in a grave,” his father Derek, told ITV News. “We just couldn’t bring ourselves to do it.
Like Nathan, 31-year-old Corporal Mathew Shillito also suffered from PTSD.
The father from Leicestershire killed himself on October 1. Read more on ITV