Canada rocked by rash of soldier suicides in one week

Senator Roméo Dallaire, seen in Washington DC on 5 February 2007 Senator Romeo Dallaire has spoken of his stress over the suicides

Related Stories

The Canadian military is soul searching after the suicides of up to four soldiers in just a week.

Defence officials told media that three of as many as four Canadian Forces members who took their own lives in recent days had served in Afghanistan.

Senator Romeo Dallaire, a retired general, blamed a recent traffic accident on stress over the deaths.

The incidents have raised questions over post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

The latest death, of a married 46-year-old soldier whose body was found on Monday near his base in Quebec, is being treated as an apparent suicide. Sylvain Lelievre had served in Bosnia and Afghanistan.

In the past week, the bodies of Warrant Officer Michael McNeil, Master Cpl William Elliott and Master Bombardier Travis Halmrast have also been discovered.

'Out of steam'

The men were based in Ontario, Manitoba and Alberta respectively.

It is not known if the soldiers suffered from PTSD, but mental illness has not been ruled out as a cause.

Col Rakesh Jetly, a military psychiatrist, told the Globe and Mail he expects the number of soldiers dealing with PTSD to rise in coming years as they return from Afghanistan.

Defence Minister Rob Nicholson issued a statement saying: "We all have a role to play in reaching out to those who are hurting and encourage them to get help.

"I want to remind those who may be going through difficult times that you are not alone and there is support available to get you through this."

Mr Dallaire acknowledged that he, too, had suffered from PTSD after witnessing atrocities as a United Nations force commander in Rwanda during the 1994 genocide.

He told Senate colleagues on Tuesday that a minor car crash he had a day earlier was caused by a lack of sleep due to stress over the recent military suicides.

"I simply ran out of steam," he said.

More on This Story

Related Stories

More US & Canada stories



  • Two women in  JohanesburgYour pictures

    Readers' photos on the theme of South Africa

  • Worcestershire flagFlying the flag

    Preserving the identities of England's counties

  • Female model's bottom in leopard skin trousers as she walks up the catwalkBum deal

    Why budget buttock ops can be bad for your health

  • The OfficeIn pictures

    Fifty landmark shows from 50 years of BBC Two

  • French luxury Tea House, Mariage Freres display of tea pots Tea for tu

    France falls back in love with tea - but don't expect a British cuppa

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.