Soldier suicides reopen wounds for Oromocto family

News of suicides by Canadian soldiers is opening painful memories for a New Brunswick family.

Parents of Cpl. Jamie McMullin fear other suicides if military doesn't improve PTSD treatment

News of suicides by Canadian soldiers is opening painful memories for a New Brunswick family.

In a span of just over a week this fall, four Canadian soldiers who served in Afghanistan took their own lives.

Jamie McMullin was 29 when he commited suicide.
Brenda and Darrell McMullin of Oromocto know what families of those soldiers are going through.

Their son,  Cpl. Jamie McMullin, came back from his tour of duty in Afghanistan a changed man and battling depression.

The McMullins hoped two years of counselling for the condition would bring back the son they knew.

"Now, he's finally going to get the help he needs. And that didn't happen either," said Darrell McMullin.

Jamie McMullin took his own life in 2011. He was 29.

"The day he died is the day that the military finally decided that he needed to be put on what they call 'category,' which means he can no longer do his job," said his father. 

Darrell McMullin's son Jamie took his own life the day the military told him he was no longer fit for duty. (CBC)
"So he's on category, he's medically unfit to be a soldier any more. Until he gets fit, he can't carry a weapon, do his normal job," he said. "In Jamie's mind, that meant the end of his career, he wouldn't be able to support his family. That's the night he died, he took his life."

Brenda McMullin worries there will be more soldier suicides if the military doesn't improve its ability to deal with post-traumatic stress disorder.

"They're put in a kitchen to work because they're so-called trouble makers or they're not willing to work," she said. "They're not admitting that these people have a problem.

"It's a mental illness. And until they do, there are going to be more suicides."

Figures released by the defence department show that 22 full-time members of the Canadian Forces committed suicide in 2011, and 13 personnel took their own lives in 2012.

The Canadian Forces Member Assistance Program has a confidential 24/7 toll-free telephone advisory and referral service for all military personnel and their families. The number is 1-800-268-7708.

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