Veterans’ website to ‘hunt enemy of suicide’

A new website to help prevent soldiers and veterans take a proactive approach to suicide is to be launched at the cenotaph in Belfast tomorrow.

Thursday, 22nd April 2021, 6:30 am
Former Royal Fusiliers captain Andrew Rawding, far right, with some serving members of the regiment he has trained in suicide awareness.

The ‘Fusiliers vs Suicide’ website has been set up by a small group of retired officers from the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers in memory of seven colleagues who died by suicide in the past year.

The website will be launched in a socially distanced wreath laying ceremony at the Belfast cenotaph at 11.00am on St George’s Day, April 23.

Former fusiliers captain Andrew Rawding - who is a registered safeTALK suicide alertness trainer - is one of those behind the project.

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He now works as a Church of Ireland cleric in Coalisland.

“We know there have been seven suicides among serving or former members of the regiment in the past year,” he said.

Five have been among veterans and two were serving members of the regiment. Although none of them took place in NI it is likely that most of them served here, he added.

“Given that the majority of those who complete suicide are not known to mental health services we decided that a different approach was needed.

“Most approaches put the onus on the person at risk coming forward. But we wanted to take a different approach and empower others - especially veterans - to proactively go and hunt down the enemy of suicide.”

The website includes a personal video message from Fusilier veteran and former World Champion boxer Nigel Benn, who served in NI and has had his own struggles with suicidal thoughts.

The website notes that some of the warning signs of someone at risk of suicide are changes in behaviour and habits.

“The person may suffer a loss of hope and purpose in life and feel that they are a burden to others. They may also be suffering from a sense of trauma guilt and shame.

”If you suspect someone is considering suicide it is important to ask them directly if they are thinking about it. The worst situation is someone feeling totally isolated with suicidal thoughts.

If they are it is most important to listen to their reason in a non-judgemental manner. It is important to assure them of a sense of belonging and that they are not a burden. Then you can signpost them or accompany them to professional support. See: www.fusiliers-vs-suicide.org

For help contact Samaritans FREE any time on tel 116 123, email [email protected] or visit www.samaritans.org