Falkland suicides 'now more than killed in action'

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More veterans of the Falklands War have committed suicide since 1982 than were originally killed in action, a support group has claimed.

The South Atlantic Medal Association says it is "almost certain" that the suicide toll is greater than the total of 255 men killed in the conflict against Argentina.

The association was speaking days after the death of Charles "Nish" Bruce, an SAS veteran and freefall expert who served in the Falklands and in Northern Ireland, and who reportedly suffered from depression. Mr Nish fell 5,000ft from a plane without a parachute in Oxfordshire last week.

Denzil Connick, the association's co-founder, blamed the high suicide rate on the "stiff-upper-lip brigade" and a lack of resources to tackle post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Mr Connick, a former paratrooper who lost a leg during the Falklands conflict, also said that the obscure nature of the suicide figures had proved to be a problem in ascertaining the facts.

"Nobody knows the official figures for suicides – that is one of the problems. But we know we have lost an average of 10 veterans per year since the conflict ended. That makes 200 veterans who have committed suicide and that is bound to be a conservative estimate. I am almost certain there will be dozens more we do not know about and the figure is likely to be more than 255," he said.

"You can get other conditions associated with [PTSD] such as alcoholism and drug abuse. Sufferers almost always have difficulty forming relationships and some have flashbacks or difficulties in crowded areas such as supermarkets."

Mr Connick added that research into Vietnam veterans and former Israeli servicemen had revealed similar patterns.

Mr Connick, himself a PTSD sufferer, said the "stiff upper lip" attitude would lead to worse problems. "What the Government has to do is make more funds available to support organisations such as Combat Stress, which works with ex-servicemen suffering psychiatric illnesses."