Newspaper article The Canadian Press

National Defence Releases Name of Fourth Apparent Soldier Suicide

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

National Defence Releases Name of Fourth Apparent Soldier Suicide

Article excerpt

Name of 4th apparent soldier suicide released

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OTTAWA - Prime Minister Stephen Harper has weighed in on the spate of apparent soldier suicides that have rocked the Canadian Forces in recent days.

Harper says everyone should encourage veterans in need to reach out to the support and systems that are there to help.

The prime minister's comments came hours after the Defence Department confirmed the military police at CFB Valcartier in Quebec are investigating the death Tuesday of Master Cpl. Sylvain Lelievre, from the 3rd battalion of the Royal 22e Regiment.

Lelievre is the fourth soldier believed to have committed suicide since last week.

Lelievre joined the Canadian Forces in June 1985 and was deployed to Bosnia between 2001 and 2002, and again in 2004. He also served in Kandahar from 2010 to 2011.

"The loss of any soldier is devastating to the military community and our condolences go out to his family and friends," spokesman Capt. Denny Brown said Wednesday in an email.

"As the death took place on the base, it is now under military police investigation. As such, it is inappropriate for us to comment on the investigation."

The escalating struggle of soldiers has been resonating across the country since word of the suicides began emerging.

The deaths include a senior non-commissioned officer at Canadian Forces Base Petawawa, northwest of Ottawa, as well as two other soldiers in Western Canada.

Veterans advocates say the number of apparent suicides within the military in recent days may only hint at the magnitude of the problem. For every death by suicide, they warn, as many as a dozen others may have unsuccessfully sought the same fate.

In a video message to military members on Wednesday night, Gen. Tom Lawson, the chief of defence staff urged them to reach out for help when battling mental issues.

"Just as you would expect to be helped by your colleagues on the battlefield if you were physically injured," said Lawson, "your brothers and sisters in arms are with you in the fight against mental illness."

"Although suicide is an international public health concern," added Lawson, "for an organization like ours built on leadership, built on camaraderie and built on strength, it hits us especially hard. …

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