NEWS

Stéphane Beauchemin death may be latest Canadian Forces suicide

01/20/2014 08:33 EST | Updated 03/22/2014 05:59 EDT
The Canadian Forces is dealing with another possible suicide after Lt.-Col. Stéphane Beauchemin was found dead in Limoges, Ont., last week.

The Department of National Defence (DND) said Beauchemin died Thursday in the city southeast of Ottawa, but would not confirm that he took his own life.

However, Michael Blais, founder of Canadian Veterans Advocacy, said Monday morning that friends speaking out on social media confirmed Beauchemin's death by suicide.

Blais said the number of suicides in the Forces is too high — he says Beauchemin's death marks the eighth in just over two months, but DND has not confirmed that number — and his advocacy group continues to call for more mental-health treatment.

Veterans advocate worried

"This is clearly indicative of a problem, a serious problem that exists within DND, and this problem is not being addressed effectively. It's as simple as that. If it was being addressed effectively, we wouldn't have this many suicides," Blais said.

"We have men and women who have served. In this case he [Beauchemin] was in Haiti, he was in former Yugoslavia. Our men and women have seen the curse of genocide, we have seen the curse of war, and we can provide help. [Post-traumatic stress disorder] is not a death sentence by any means."

The advocacy group wants more trained mental-health professionals at the DND level.

"We can step up if we provide the resources that these men and women need to deal with the mental trauma that they've experienced in war and peace, and frankly, this government is not stepping up to the plate on this issue."

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