Armed Forces: Death

Ministry of Defence written question – answered on 22nd June 2022.

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Photo of Crispin Blunt Crispin Blunt Conservative, Reigate

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, how many British armed forces personnel who served in the (a) Gulf war in 1991, (b) Iraq war in 2003 and (c) Operation Herrick (i) died on active service during those conflicts or (ii) subsequently took their own lives due to (A) post-traumatic stress disorder and (B) other causes.

Photo of Leo Docherty Leo Docherty Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State (jointly with the Ministry of Defence)

The number of UK Armed Forces personnel who died during active service in each of the specified conflicts is presented in the following table:

UK Armed Forces deaths as a result of operations in Gulf 1, Iraq and Afghanistan, as of 28 February 2022

Conflict

Date

Number of deaths

Gulf 1

2 August 1990 to 7 March 1991

45

Iraq (Op TELIC)

20 January 2003 to 22 May 2011

178

Afghanistan1,2

11 September 2001 to 28 August 2021

457

Table Notes:

  1. As part of an ongoing commitment to report deaths for all operations overseas led by the Permanent Joint Headquarters, deaths as a result of these operations are published biannually: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/uk-armed-forces-and-uk-civilian-operational-casualty-and-fatality-statistics.
  2. Includes deaths on Operation VERITAS, Operation HERRICK and Operation TORAL.

The number of UK Armed Forces personnel who served during Gulf 1 who subsequently took their own lives was 216 as of 31 December 2015 (source: 1990/1991 Gulf Conflict UK Gulf Veterans Mortality Data: Causes of Death). This includes both coroner-confirmed suicides and open verdict deaths, in line with the definition used by the Office for National Statistics. Information is not held on the numbers of former serving personnel who deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan who subsequently took their own lives. However, Defence Statistics are in the process of setting up a new project to understand the long-term consequences of military service (including all deaths) for all personnel who have served since 2001, including recent conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In 2018, the then Secretary of State for Defence directed that, going forward, the study should include all personnel to understand the impact of continued deployments overseas, and it should provide near real time surveillance of causes of death in Serving personnel and veterans. The study is currently going through MOD Ethics and the NHS Health Research Authority Confidentiality Advisory Group ahead of the data flows starting between NHS Digital and MOD. Defence Statistics expect to start reporting for England and Wales later this year with data for Scotland and Northern Ireland following. The first report is expected in 2022.

Information is not held by the Ministry of Defence (MOD) on whether subsequent deaths for former serving personnel were due to post-traumatic stress disorder or other causes. Cause of death information is collated from the death certificate; this source of information does not provide any insight into the life factors and medical conditions that may have resulted in individuals taking their own lives.

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