POLITICS

Report into 2008 suicide of Canadian soldier to be released next week

03/03/2015 11:07 EST | Updated 05/03/2015 05:59 EDT
OTTAWA - Nearly seven years to the day a troubled young soldier killed himself on an Edmonton base, a report into whether the military police botched the investigation into his death will finally be released.

The publication of the Military Police Complaints Commission report next Tuesday is the latest but not the last step on a very long road for the family of Cpl. Stuart Langridge.

The veteran of the wars in Afghanistan and Bosnia was 28 when he hanged himself on March 15, 2008 after struggling with drug and alcohol addiction and what was later believed to be post traumatic stress disorder.

Three military investigations were held into the circumstances surrounding his death and what happened afterwards, inquiries the family alleged were all biased toward exonerating the Canadian Forces.

They filed a formal complaint with the Military Police Complaints Commission and the agency agreed in 2011 to hold a hearing, arguing that the issues struck at the very heart of the ability of military police to do its job.

"If these allegations are substantiated the implications are of profound significance," the head of the commission, Glenn Stannard, wrote at the time.

The subsequent hearing ran for more than 60 days and heard from nearly 100 witnesses before wrapping up in January 2013.

Among other things, the commission heard that at the end of one stint in psychiatric care, the young soldier told a doctor he'd rather die than return to his base.

He was sent back anyway and killed himself 10 days later.

The military argued it did everything it could for Langridge and blamed his problems on substance abuse.

His mother and step-father, Sheila and Shaun Fynes, maintain he was the casualty of a culture that didn't take mental health issues seriously.

The complaints commission report will examine each of the allegations made by the Fynes and make recommendations.

But since it deals specifically with the actions of military police, broader questions will remain, said the lawyer representing the family.

The Fynes' still await a copy of the board of inquiry investigation into Langridge's death — such inquiries are standard practice when a soldier commits suicide and are designed to determine whether the military contributed in any way to a member's death.

Without it, there's no way to know if anything could have actually been done to prevent Langridge's suicide, said retired colonel Michel Drapeau.

"We don't know if they've learned any lessons," he said.

In 2014, there were 19 suicides in the Canadian military, according to recently released figures.

That’s one of the highest levels in the last decade, surpassed only by 22 suicides in 2009 and 25 in 2011 — the final year of Canada’s combat mission in Kandahar.

The military does not release statistics on suicide attempts.

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