The mother of a Canadian soldier who committed suicide after being wounded in Afghanistan says the Armed Forces failed her son.
In an interview with the Radio-Canada program Enquête, Linda Lagimonière said she learned only during a board of inquiry into the death of her son, Pte. Frédéric Couture, that he had attempted suicide before — and that many members of the Forces were aware of the situation.
"When you finally find out what happened, you go 'my God, why did they never tell me? Things would have been so different,'" Lagimonière said.
Couture, 21, was the first soldier from CFB Valcartier to get hurt during the Afghanistan mission.
The member of the 2nd Battalion of the famed Royal 22 Regiment ("VanDoos") lost his left foot after stepping on an improvised explosive device in the village of Maku in southern Afghanistan on Dec. 16, 2006.
After the incident, the Forces sent Couture home to Roxton Pond, Que., Lagimonière said.
"He was terribly traumatized, but they sent him to us for eight or nine months — hoping he would be all right, but without resources," Lagimonière said.
But Couture wasn’t all right — almost one year after his injury, on Nov. 14, 2007, Couture took his own life.
"He died in my arms," his mother said.
The Forces argue that the suicide rate among soldiers is lower than for the overall population and that no firm link has been established between deployment and suicide.
However, the Forces admit they don't have enough information to paint a complete picture. Officials acknowledge they have a hard time tracking suicides, especially among former soldiers.
Lagimonière said she hopes her son's story will get more people talking about suicide in the Forces to break down what she calls "the wall of silence," and help prevent other families from going through the pain her family has suffered.