Private, Thomas E. Copson, of the Machine Gun Corps, had been a former prisoner of war. He committed suicide on the 11/02/1919, aged 33. 

Lieutenant, Arthur Franklin, was found dead in a pool of blood, in the waiting room at Worthing Railway station. He had a bullet wound to the head. (Hull Daily Mail 19/12/1919)

Private, Thomas Alfred Lloyd, RAMC, depressed with influenza, cut his throat, on the 24/02/1919.

While their stories were reported in the Hull Daily Mail, their deaths were unrecorded by the military.

There were many more suicides. The full extent may never be known. Suicides were often reported in news papers, and to protect the families of victims, such deaths were recorded in alternative ways. The psychological impact of the First World War on men and their families was just not fully understood. We can only speculate how the trauma of war blighted the lives of servicemen and their families long after the war.

While there was some recognition of “Shell Shock”, the existence of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) was only officially recognised by the US government in 1980. In the wake of Vietnam, researchers began to take an interest in the illness on soldiers’ families. Researchers from the Centre for Military Health Research at King’s College, London, agree that a close relationship exists between the incidence of death and injury on the battlefield and the number of psychiatric casualties.

In a study o people receiving war pensions for psychiatric illness between 1940 and 1980, a team of researchers found that the 10 most common symptoms were anxiety, depression, sleep problems, headache, irritability/anger, tremor/shaking, difficulty completing tasks, poor concentration, repeated fears and avoidance of social contact.

Some of these symptoms could contribute to the “shared emotional cauldron” in the traumatised veterans’ families, which led some children to share their father’s pain.

1 thought on “Suicides”

  1. I wonder if you could shed some light on the death of James Harold Gray an ex RAF pilot in 1947/48 I am very distantly related to the person
    Thank you

    Dave Gray

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