Veteran suicide figures to be recorded for the first time

The government has announced a new method for recording veteran suicides, in England and Wales. This will be accompanied with a look back, over 10 years, to examine veterans deaths by suicide.

The move follows an agreement between the Office for Veterans’ Affairs (OVA), the MOD and the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The new method will combine date from the recent veterans’ question in the 2021 Census and ONS-held data on suicides. This means that a statistic known as a national measure will indicate the total number of veterans who die by suicide each year.

The aim is to better understand where there is a need for dedicated services in England and Wales. And to ensure that veterans are more clearly signposted to these targeted services.

It is expected that the first annual statistics will be published in 2023.

Minister for Defence People and Veterans Leo Docherty said

Any suicide is a tragedy and collecting better data on these instances will help government better target support for those who need it. This builds on a number of studies which are already taking place to better understand why some veterans take their lives. Support is out there and hope that today’s agreement will help us reach more people who may be struggling.

Northern Ireland

With regard to Northern Ireland the following statement has been released:

The Office for Veterans’ Affairs is working closely with the devolved administrations to ensure that every individual’s life is recorded. We will update in due course.


A Scottish Government spokesperson said:

Veterans are a great asset to our country and we are committed to doing everything we can to support them and their families after they leave military service. No death by suicide should be inevitable and every life lost is a tragedy for families, friends and colleagues. We have recently been contacted by the UK Government’s Office of Veterans’ Affairs and we are speaking to them about their approach on this important issue. We will also be undertaking engagement with National Records of Scotland, the Ministry of Defence and others to explore next steps.

In addition, Scotland’s Census 2022 will ask for the first time whether people have previously served in the UK Armed Forces. This will provide information on the size and location of the veterans community in Scotland.