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Suicides

Volume 455: debated on Wednesday 10 January 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the rate of suicide is among UK armed forces personnel who have seen active service in Iraq or Afghanistan. (112666)

The Ministry of Defence has centrally compiled and verified records of coroner-confirmed suicides or open verdict deaths among UK service personnel up to 31 December 2005. Between 18 January 2003 and 31 December 2005, there were 17 coroner-confirmed suicides or open verdict deaths among UK regular armed forces deployed on Operation Telic since 18 January 2003. This includes deaths both in theatre and since their return, among the approximate 100,000 personnel deployed during this period. During this period, there were a further 40 suicides or open verdict deaths among those who were not deployed on Operation Telic. Verdicts have yet to be reached for 19 other deaths thought to be due to violent or unnatural causes (excluding accidents), six of which involve personnel who were deployed on Operation Telic during this period.

These data represent a crude rate of 8.7 suicides and open verdict deaths per 100,000 person-years-at-risk for those who were deployed at some time to Operation Telic. This compares to a rate of 12.7 suicides and open verdict deaths per 100,000 person-years-at-risk among those who were not deployed to Operation Telic. The difference between these two rates is not statistically significant.

It is not possible to distinguish between those who saw active service in Iraq from those deployed on Operation Telic who were based in other countries of the Joint Operational Area. Although there has been one case among the reservists in theatre, information on reservists is not available after they have been demobilised following their return to the UK.

There have been no coroner-confirmed suicides or open verdict deaths in Afghanistan among personnel deployed there. Information on deaths among these personnel since their return from theatre is not currently available.

The figures provided do not include any violent or unnatural deaths that have not yet been fully investigated by the coroner.