Edmonton

Mother seeks answers from hearing into soldier's suicide

The mother of a soldier who took his own life at the Edmonton Garrison hopes a public hearing will answer the questions she has had for more than three years.
Cpl. Stuart Langridge died in Edmonton on March 15, 2008. (Courtesy Sheila Fynes)

The mother of a soldier who took his own life at the Edmonton Garrison hopes a public hearing will answer the questions she has had for more than three years.  

After several suicide attempts, Cpl. Stuart Langridge hanged himself in March 2008. The young soldier suffered from severe depression and post-traumatic stress disorder and struggled with substance abuse after he returned from a six-month tour of duty in Afghanistan in 2005.

On Tuesday, the Military Police Complaints Commission called a public hearing into his death.

"We're hoping it's going to shed some light on not just Stuart's case, but how the whole process works," his mother Sheila Fynes said at her home in Victoria Wednesday.

Fynes and her husband filed a formal complaint with the commission. They allege the probe conducted by the Canadian Forces National Investigations Service was not impartial or independent, and aimed to absolve the military of any responsibility for their son's death.

They also allege the military failed to pass on a suicide note Langridge left for them until 15 months after his death.

Sheila Fynes says her son was suffering from depression and post-traumatic stress disorder at the time of his death. (CBC)

Fynes hopes the public hearing will explain why it was so difficult for her son to get the help he needed.

"To lose a child, no matter how old they are, is devastating," she said. "To lose them to suicide puts that in a whole other category. To lose them to suicide that we feel could have been prevented is — it's mind numbing."  

The chairman of the Military Police Complaints Commission, Glenn Stannard, said the decision to hold a public hearing into the questions raised by Langridge's death was not taken lightly.

"Openness is particularly important in light of the fact that the allegations themselves raise issues about transparency," Stannard said in Tuesday's news release.

"As a result, the process used to shed light on this matter and determine whether these allegations are well founded should itself be open and transparent."

A date for the public hearing will be set in October.

Canada's chief of defence staff, Gen. Walter Natynczyk, and Defence Minister Peter MacKay have apologized to Fynes for how the military treated her son and dealt with her family after he died.

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