Mission to reduce suicides and stop mental illness stigma in Special Forces


Defense Secretary Ben Wallace told a coroner there is a new policy of managing vulnerable personnel after the suicide of PTS sufferer Cpl Alex Tostevin who was found dead at home

At least eight members of the armed forces are believed to have taken their own lives in 2022

Special Forces are mounting an operation to end mental illness stigma and stop suicides.

Defense Secretary Ben Wallace revealed the Special Boat Service’s mission after the inquest into PTS sufferer Cpl Alex Tostevin.

Decorated Cpl Tostevin, 28, was found dead at home – the third elite commando to have died from suicide since 2018.

Tory Mr Wallace wrote to the inquest coroner saying the SBS is now actively trying to remove mental health stigma and has a new policy of managing vulnerable personnel.

And he said a Defense Suicide Register is being planned as part of a suicide prevention strategy.

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Ben Wallace said a Defense Suicide Register is being planned



He wrote: “I recognize there is more work to be done within the SBS and across the Special Forces.

“Men in general have been shown to delay seeking help due to lack of insight, stigma and fear that disclosure of their personal circumstances will be seen as a sign of weakness and/or have an adverse effect on their career.”

In 2022 at least eight members of the armed forces are believed to have taken their own lives.

Friends of Cpl Tostevin, raised in Guernsey, told his inquest he had been drinking heavily and racking up large debts.

Decorated Cpl Tostevin was found dead at home



Coroner Brendan Allen said in an email from a welfare officer about a sharp decline in his mental health was not picked up, which was a “missed opportunity.”

Cpl Tostevin’s family believe he developed PTSD while he served with the Royal Marines in Afghanistan in 2010.

His mum Alison said he was “asking for help for a long time and as a family we feel he was failed”.

She added: “We hope more members of the forces will talk about mental health – Alex wouldn’t want anyone else to suffer as he did.”

Ex-Army Warrant Officer and veterans’ mental health campaigner Jim Wilde said: “Finally, the defense secretary has admitted more work needs to be done. This is the case right across the military.”

The Sunday People’s Save Our Soldiers campaign is calling for a radical reform of the way the military handles mental health.

The MoD said: “Every suicide is a tragedy. We are firmly committed to the wellbeing of serving personnel.”

The Samaritans is available 24/7 if you need to talk. You can contact them for free by calling 116 123, email [email protected] or head to the website to find your nearest branch. You matter.


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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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