Ali’s story reminds us that military suicide has been a problem since the military began, Lest We Forget. When we think of Military suicide we think of recent events, we think of the after effects of Iraq and Afghanistan. However, do we think of the effects of Northern Ireland, Bosnia and Kosovo, Kenya, The Falklands for example? It’s always been there, it’s just been hidden, not talked about due to the stigma and societies inability to understand mental health. Ali breaks that silence today by talking about her brother, Denis, who took his own life in 1985. her brother’s suicide was never spoken about within the family, it shattered her family from that moment on and this is her chance to have her brother remembered and spoken about. I think you will admit, it has been a long time coming.
Denis was the eldest of us three kids, he was funny, kind ,the joker of the pack and at 6ft 5 and a size 13 shoe, a real gentle giant. Denis dream was the army , his dreams were almost shattered when the medical revealed that he was colour blind ,however he was offered a place as an RMP in the Royal Signals and started Army life at Catterick Garrison in 1973.
We didn’t have a great childhood and my little brother and I missed him terribly, we couldn’t wait for him to come home on leave. I remember him fastidiously shining his army boots with polish and a lighter, polishing his buckles and buttons ’til they gleamed! He looked amazing in his uniform and we were so proud of him.
He met Denise, a fellow RMP at Catterick and they married a couple of years later. He had postings in Berlin and Northern Ireland and eventually ended up at Aldershot.
His marriage broke up in early 1985,he came home for a visit and was his usual daft self. No alarm bells for us to think that he wasn’t coping. December 85 ,we got Christmas cards telling us that he would be home on leave in January.