NEWS
11/12/2015 15:56 EST | Updated 11/12/2016 00:12 EST

Soldier suicide recognition at DND an uphill battle, says victim's mother

OTTAWA — Advocates say the new Liberal government's pledge to commemorate troops who've died by suicide could face an uphill battle against a military culture that views taking one's own life as dishonourable and a sign of weakness.

Sheila Fynes, whose son Cpl. Stuart Langridge died by his own hand in 2008, says she's been made cautiously optimistic by the promise, but the stigma of mental illness, which can lead to suicide, is still very much a part of the military mindset.

She also says the reflex of the military is to view a soldier's suicide as some sort of systemic failure, which the institution is loath to acknowledge.  

The military's handling of Langridge's suicide following service in Afghanistan was the subject of an exhaustive inquiry by the Military Police Complaints Commission.

Glen Kirkland, an advocate for veterans who was wounded on combat operations in Kandahar, says suicide is a bigger "taboo" for those in uniform and regarded less compassionately than in general society.

Even so, the new veterans minister, Kent Hehr, says both he and Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan are determined to press ahead and they will treat all soldiers with care, dignity and respect.

The Canadian Press