Thomas Hansen was sent to Afghanistan three times and brought back harsh memories. A little girl with burns still visits his dreams. Last year he tried to take his own life. - Foto: ADRIAN JOACHIM
Nine young Afghan veterans have tried to commit suicide.
The past twelve months have seen nine attempted suicides among returning young Afghan veterans in Denmark, according to an as yet unpublished report from the enlisted men’s union HKKF.
“This is a surprisingly high number. The attempts have come within a short period of time and it is very worrying that returning soldiers feel so bad, given that the military has a system to help them,” says Consultant Yvonne Tønnesen. Tønnesen speaks to soldiers when they contact the HKKF Lifeline.
According to the report, all of the soldiers concerned have been in their 20s. Four of them deliberately drove into a barrier, wall or trees. Two took an overdose of pills, two attempted to hang themselves while another walked fully-dressed into freezing water, and only changed his mind as he was about to lose consciousness.
Common to all of those concerned was that they have kept their attempted suicides from their families.
“The soldiers say that they have just had enough of the daily battle simply to get out of bed. Some say they won’t try suicide again. Others say ‘next time I’ll succeed’,” Tønnesen says.
She adds that soldiers often find it difficult to understand the reality that they return home to. When the family complains that the terracing shattered as a result of heavy snow during the winter, they compare this with the death and destruction they have witnessed during the war, and they just wonder.
Many of the soldiers isolate themselves from their friends and feel they were only interesting as long as they could tell blood-curdling stories, Tønnesen adds.
He military has provided returning soldiers the possibility of working through their problems with psychologists or through group therapy.
“More soldiers than previously get a psychological stress reaction when they come home. Currently about one in seven,” says Defence Chief Psychologist Vibeke Schmidt.
She says that soldiers often suffer from insomnia, angst and violent aggression. Six months after they have returned home, the military sends them a questionnaire to see whether they have psychological problems, but 30 percent do not answer.
“These are precisely the one that we need to have contact with,” Tønnesen says.
I thought this was a very interesting article, particularly because it deals with a very debated subject. I don't know if it'll have any interest to any of you, but it definitely had to me and I think that this statistic just proves further that there needs to be more extensive therapy offered to soldiers.
Hope I tagged this right btw, had some trouble with it!