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Ease transition' to reduce suicide risk: veterans ombudsman

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Ease transition' to reduce suicide risk: veterans ombudsman

Post by Guest on Wed 11 Nov 2015, 18:03

A day after a landmark study suggested a link between trauma on military deployments and risk of suicide, Canada’s veterans ombudsman says he believes suicides could be prevented by easing the transition from military to civilian life.
“I think a lot of these people are depressed because they’re leaving behind a family … and a way of life,” Guy Parent told CTV News Channel Wednesday, speaking after attending a Remembrance Day ceremony at the National Military Cemetery in Ottawa.
“To face the unknown, they need to be sure that there is something better coming to them,” he added. “We can do that by ensuring they have a smooth transition, that they understand what is available and how they can actually access it.”
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Veterans Affairs Ombudsman Guy Parent
Veterans Affairs Ombudsman Guy Parent speaks about soldier suicide to CTV News Channel from Ottawa, on Wednesday, Nov. 11, 2015.
Parent said “it’s everybody’s responsibility” to watch for the signs and symptoms of depression, anxiety disorders and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), but that even when mental illnesses are recognized, accessing services can be “frustrating” due to “stringent eligibility criteria.”
“It’s frustrating for the people who are physically injured, so you can just imagine how frustrating it is for people who have invisible injuries.”
Parent said he and Canadian Forces Ombudsman Gary Walbourne are working on their first-ever joint study, which will make recommendations to both the Canadian Forces and Veterans Affairs on how to ease transitions back to civilian life.

The study released Tuesday, and approved by the military’s Surgeon General, looked at all military suicides by males from 1995 to 2014. It found that incidents are not increasing, nor is there a statistically significant difference between the rates of death by suicide for military members versus civilians. (The study, however, did not include reservists or veterans.)
Still the study found a significantly higher suicide rate among those who had served in the Army, as opposed to the Air Force or Navy, and an even more pronounced risk among those who served in “combat arms roles.”
“Deployment-related trauma (especially that related to the mission in Afghanistan) and resulting mental disorders are plausible mechanisms for these associations,” the report’s authors concluded.
The Liberal government has said it is committed to addressing PTSD and soldier suicide.
Defence Minister Harjit Singh Sajjan said Wednesday that he and Chief of Defence Staff Gen. Jonathan Vance will make PTSD treatment one of their priorities.
Sajjan, a veteran of the Afghanistan and Bosnia Wars, said he personally knows soldiers and vets who have struggled with PTSD and other issues.
Sajjan told CTV's Ottawa Bureau Chief Robert Fife that the Canadian Armed Forces have “come a long way” in providing mental health services, but he wants to make sure they “continue to evolve.”
Interim opposition leader Rona Ambrose told Fife that she too had been personally affected by military suicide. Her brother’s partner, a female medic with the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry, died by suicide.

The top Conservative said her government had “worked so hard on this issue” and that she is certain the new government “will do the same.”
Ambrose said there “much work to be done,” including research into why some soldiers are susceptible while others are “more resilient.”
“We need to figure out what those things are, so that we can prepare our men and women when they go into battle,” Ambrose said, “and support them after they come back.”


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