At least four former Royal Marines are suspected to have committed suicide in the past four weeks in a new PTSD scandal, according to the Daily Mirror.
All the ex-Commandos are understood to have been veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan war zones who were suffering with their mental health.
The spate of deaths – described as “carnage” – came as it also emerged that a further three former soldiers are feared to have taken their own lives since the beginning of April.
It is understood to have caused “grave concern” at the very highest levels of the tight-knit Marines, whose proud traditions date back 350 years.
Maj Gen Charles Stickland, who as Commandant General is head of the elite corps, is said to have expressed deep concern over the deaths.
And Prince Harry, who served in Afghanistan with the Army but now holds the ceremonial post of the Marines’ Captain General, has also voiced his worries.
Harry recently said that both he and new bride Meghan were “shocked to the core” by stories from veterans struggling with mental health issues.
He said previously: “I have seen those I have served with suffer, struggling to seek out help they desperately need.
“And we know there are more just like them who suffer in silence.”
A veteran of 20 years in the Marines who was friends with one suicide victim described the recent surge in deaths as “utter carnage”.
He said: “PTSD is a killer. It doesn’t matter who you are, how tough you are or how many medals you have on your chest. Everyone who has served in a combat zone is vulnerable and not everyone will win the battle with PTSD.
“One guy who died was over 6ft and looked as though he could carry the world on his shoulders.
“He was a fantastic Marine but not even his best mates knew he had PTSD.
“He had a loving family, a nice home and a good job. Yet he wanted to end it all.
“There is a big problem with senior non-commissioned officers, often very strong characters. They look invincible but they are carrying a lot of baggage and are often too proud to get help.”
The disclosure comes after new figures from the Ministry of Defence reveal more than 5,000 Armed Services members were diagnosed with a mental health problem last year.
The MoD also revealed that 24 soldiers who joined the military under the age of 18 were medically discharged with mental health problems in 2016-17.
One of the Marines who died was buried on the same day that veteran Daniel Johnston, 35, who served in the Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment and the special forces, committed suicide.
His body was found in woodland in West Sussex after a four-day search involving hundreds of serving and former soldiers.