Showing posts with label Northern Ireland. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Northern Ireland. Show all posts

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Lance Corporal James Ross committed suicide after being isolated

Why were these troubled soldiers sent to 'isolated' base after horrors of war? Mother's agony that son who lost five comrades in Afghanistan is one of two found hanged in three months

The Daily Mail
Joel Adams and Sophie Law
February 4, 2019
  • Lance Corporal James Ross, 30, was found hanged at Army base in Ballykinler
  • Mother Linda Ketcher questioned why her son was sent to an 'isolated' base
  • She told the inquest how senior Army personnel kept her son's friends away from her at the funeral saying it was 'odd' she was not allowed to have a conversation
  • Darren Mitchell, 20, also died from suspected suicide at base three months later

Lance Corporal James Ross (pictured), 30, from Leeds, was found hanged at Abercorn Army base in Ballykinler on December 8 2012
The mother of a soldier found hanged in a suspected suicide at an isolated barracks, where another solder is suspected to have killed himself months later, has spoken of her agony over his death. 
It comes as a Daily Mail investigation found men from their regiment, which took heavy losses in Helmand, are self-harming and taking their own lives at an alarming rate.
Lance Corporal James Ross, 30, from Leeds, who served in Afghanistan, was found hanged at Abercorn Army base in Ballykinler, Northern Ireland, on December 8 2012.
The inquest into his death, and the death by hanging of Rifleman Darren Mitchell, six weeks later at the same base, opened today.
Mrs Ketcher said that army officials prevented her from speaking to soldiers from the barracks at her son's funeral. 
She said: 'A few of them [his friends from the Army] were visibly upset. 
'If any of the guys who served with him [came to speak to me], within minutes, there would be someone ushering them away from me. read more here

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Combat Stress says that the service desperately needs funds to keep it afloat

If you are donating to the "awareness" groups, you are part of the problem this group is facing. They are doing the work to change lives.

Vital 24-hour helpline for military veterans suffering with PTSD faces the axe

The Mirror UK
By Nicola Small
DEC 29, 2018
Chris, 48, said: “I had to build up the courage to pick up the phone because it takes a lot to admit you need help.
Northern Ireland veteran Chris Batty, 48, from Sunderland (Image: Mirrorpix)

A life-saving helpline for veterans battling with PTSD may have to axe its 24-hour operation because of a cash crisis.

Combat Stress says its round-the-clock service desperately needs funds.

Last year it handled more than 12,500 calls – up 24 per cent in a year.

But in March the NHS cut ­£3.2million of Combat Stress’s overall funding – a fifth of its income.

The charity has already reduced its vital residential care programmes.

And now bosses have appealed through the Sunday People for public donations to keep its helpline available at all times.

They chose us because of our Save Our Soldiers campaign, which calls for a radical overhaul of how the Government and military top brass handle post-traumatic stress.

Carol Smith, Combat Stress director of client services, said: “We absolutely do not want to reduce the hours.

“Our helpline is the first port of call for veterans seeking help and it is really important they are able to contact us at any time of the day or night.

“A lot of calls are made at night because often people with mental health conditions find it difficult to sleep. Many have told us that if they hadn’t made that call they wouldn’t be here today.

“We have enough funding to see us through to April because we have been fortunate enough to receive a couple of legacies.

“But after that everything depends on how much money we are able to raise.”
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Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Royal Green Jackets PTSD Veteran Suicide in Jail

War veteran with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder killed himself in his cell at HMP Liverpool
Liverpool Echo UK
Luke Traynor
December 20, 2017

John Duffey's mental health was made worse by bullying, drug use and debt, inquest told
A war veteran who suffered with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) following tours in Northern Ireland hanged himself at Walton jail.
Bullying, debt and drug use at the jail worsened the conditions that led former army corporal John Duffey to take his own life almost 18 months ago, an inquest heard.

John Duffey's mental health was made worse by bullying, drug use and debt, inquest told
The 44-year-old, who had previously served with the Royal Green Jackets, was found in his cell on July 16, 2016, on HMP Liverpool’s J Wing.

Liverpool Coroner’s Court heard how dad-of-two Mr Duffey had made two attempts to kill himself in 2000 and 2011, and was discharged from the armed forces on medical grounds, 17 years ago.

Afterwards, Mr Duffey, from Wallasey, fell into a pattern of alcohol and drug abuse.

He was remanded into custody in 2015 for breaching his licence conditions, before he participated in an intensive six month scheme for “at-risk” prisoners.

The jury heard evidence that healthcare staff within the prison were not equipped to provide treatment for PTSD due to staff vacancies.
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Sunday, May 21, 2017

In Depth of Despair Veteran "Drove to Top of Mountain" and Died

Soldier and father Dylan Jones took his own life after suffering with PTSD
Wales Online
20 MAY 2017
'More should have been done' for Dylan Jones, 37, who was traumatised by his time in the Armed Forces
Dylan served tours of Northern Ireland, Iraq and Afghanistan with the armed forces
Dylan Jones served in the Armed Forces for 18 years and served tours in Northern Ireland, Afghanistan and Iraq, as a member of the Welsh Guards, 14 Signal Regiment and Royal Welch Fusiliers.

But an impressive career in the forces took an emotional toll.

One friend died in his arms after being shot. A number of others were killed by an explosive device.

Sick of suffering with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), on July 4, 2015, the 37-year-old, of Llansawel, Carmarthenshire, drove to the top of a mountain and took his own life - leaving twin children behind.
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Sunday, October 16, 2016

Northern Ireland PTSD Beyond The Battlefild

NI charity helps more than 100 army veterans who tried to take their own lives
BBC News
October 16, 2016

A Northern Ireland charity is helping more than 100 army veterans who have tried to take their own lives, a BBC documentary has been told.

'Losing the Battle' will be broadcast on BBC Radio Ulster on Sunday.
Aaron Nixon said he had to pay for a private post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) assessment at a Belfast clinic this month
It will examine issues including post-traumatic stress disorder, suicide, and attempted suicide among army veterans. The programme hears claims that increasing numbers of veterans are facing difficulties accessing help to deal with mental health problems.

Brett Savage, 28, who celebrated his 19th birthday in Afghanistan, said: "I didn't expect my life to be like this now. Never. You know I can't sleep and stuff. Stupid things remind me of things."

Alexander Gore described the changes he has faced since a homecoming parade in Belfast for soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.

He said it was "definitely a proud moment in my life" but that after it "things just started to go downhill with the post traumatic stress really".

"Now it is never going to go away, it is always going to be there and everybody is going to need help sooner or later with it," he added.
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Beyond the Battlefield

Friday, March 25, 2016

PTSD: "It's like a tornado going through a quiet town."

Living with post traumatic stress – a Hull soldier's story
By Hull Daily Mail
Posted: March 25, 2016

The condition's impact on his day-to-day life has been wide and varied. He suffers from flashbacks, sleeplessness and occasional involuntary fits of rage. . he says, trying to explain its nature.
SCOTT Moore's voice trembles slightly as he describes an ordeal that began almost two decades ago.

The 42-year-old from west Hull is a former soldier in the Yorkshire Regiment who served in Bosnia and Northern Ireland in the 1990s and he suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

It is a condition that has cost him two marriages, a livelihood and even his enjoyment of New Year's Eve.

Even more seriously, in November 2014, it led to him attempting to take his own life.

"I'd just had enough," he says. "I went and got the drugs I needed – I knew exactly what I was doing and what it would take to kill me."

Indeed, as doctors would tell him later, he had taken enough medication to kill ten men.

But he did wake up, and was informed by medics at Hull Royal Infirmary that his lengthy prescription of drugs to heal his physical pain had saved him.

"Because I was taking so many painkillers I'd become immunised to them," Scott says.

Scott is far from alone in his suffering. A report commissioned by veterans' charity Help For Heroes last November estimated more than 61,000 former soldiers suffer from mental health problems after they leave the Forces.

It was the second time Scott had attempted to take his own life. The first had been in 1998 when he was still serving. Within a year he left active service.
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Monday, February 22, 2016

After 21 Years of Service, Combat Veteran Beaten by Girlfriend

Sergeant who served in Afghanistan, Bosnia and Northern Ireland was beaten to a pulp by his dumbbell-wielding girlfriend
Daily Mail UK
PUBLISHED:22 February 2016

Rob Bryan has served in Afghanistan, Bosnia and Northern Ireland
He was left lying in blood after he was attacked by Angelique Doyle
He is sharing his story to help other male victims of domestic violence
The 36-year-old smashed a glass and a bottle over his head before battering him with a stool and biting him. She picked up a 12kg dumbbell, and launched it at his face, breaking his nose and leaving the father needing hospital treatment
A war veteran who served in Afghanistan, Bosnia and Northern Ireland was beaten to a pulp by his girlfriend in an unprovoked attack with a dumbbell.

Rob Bryan, was left lying in a pool of blood at his flat in Manchester after the attack at the hands of partner Angelique Doyle.

The 36-year-old smashed a glass and a wine bottle over his head before battering him with a stool and biting him.

She picked up a 12kg dumbbell, and launched it at his face, breaking his nose and leaving the father needing hospital treatment.

Now the former soldier is sharing his story to urge other male victims of domestic violence to speak out.

The 43-year-old, who was discharged from the army with PTSD in March 2014 after 21 years of service, had been in a relationship with Doyle for 15 months.
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Monday, September 21, 2015

UK: Veteran Homeless After 11 Years of Service

Homeless ex-soldier says he has been urinated on and spat at while living on streets of Manchester
Manchester Evening News
Billy Gage, who spent 11 years in the army but is now living on the streets, also had his sleeping bag set on fire
Ex British soldier Billy Gage talks about the abuse he has suffered while on the streets
A former British soldier has told how he has been urinated on and had his sleeping bag set on fire while living on the streets of Manchester.

Billy Gage went into the Armed Forces as soon as he left school at the age of 16 and spent 11 years serving his country as an All Arms Commando and went on several tours including Northern Ireland, Kosovo, Bosnia and Sierra Leone.

After leaving in 2004 he started his own plastering business, got married and had a son, Daniel.

But when his son was just six-years-old, Daniel tragically died.

The 39-year-old said he is shocked there is not more help for soldiers and he is disgusted at how people treat those living on the streets.

He said: “Sometimes I just go to a quiet street and cry to myself. I just can’t believe I’m in this situation.

“I have put my life on the line for the good of this country and this is the way I’m treated? It’s disgusting.”

He said he has been urinated on, spat on and even had his sleeping bag set on fire while being homeless.
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Sunday, June 14, 2015

UK "Blunders" Exposed After Soldiers Found Hanged

Soldiers found hanged: army blunders exposed 
The Sunday Times (UK)
Mark Hookham, Defence Correspondent
Published: 14 June 2015
Darren Mitchell had fought in Afghanistan
AN INQUIRY into the suspected suicides of two Afghanistan veterans and eight further incidents of self-harm at an isolated army base in Northern Ireland has exposed a series of blunders.

Officers at Ballykinler barracks in Co Down were warned that at least one of the soldiers who died was suffering from the symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) four months before he was found hanged, a report reveals.

The army launched an inquiry following the deaths of Lance-Corporal James Ross, 30, in December 2012 and Rifleman Darren Mitchell, 20, two months later. Both men, of the 2nd Battalion the Rifles, had fought in Afghanistan. Like Mitchell, Ross was found hanged.
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Monday, August 18, 2014

Fighting Combat PTSD in Scotland

Fighting on the frontline: PTSD cases surge across Scotland
By Laura Piper
18 August 2014
Lance Corporal John Templeton was one soldier who was referred to the charity by his GP after suffering a breakdown years after he had left the army.

"I had been suppressing it for years, self-medicating through alcohol misuse," he said. "I think I used drink to keep the demons away at and the lads just had a drink and – you know that phrase 'just soldier on' – well, that’s what we did.

“I now know I should have got help a lot earlier. If I had maybe I wouldn’t have lost so much."

It has been described as the invisible scar of war; the bomb waiting to explode when a soldier returns home.

For men and women returning from conflict, post-traumatic stress disorder can be a battle they never expected to fight.

In the military there is a deep-rooted ethos that 'no man gets left behind' with soldiers committed to risking all to protect those they fight alongside.

In Scotland, there are two men carrying this belief on long after the call to duty has been answered.
As one of only two regional officers for Combat Stress in Scotland, Lappin has to see the on-going turmoil in the eyes of veterans every single day.

"If you were to draw a line down Scotland I would be on the West and Jim Lawrence the East," said Lappin.

Together, the two men travel door to door across the country, meeting veterans in their own home in order to help them take the first step to confronting their ongoing battles.

"When I started here we were getting an average of 60 new referrals a year. Now, I'd say that's up to 130, partly because of the recent conflict in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"But as much as we see veterans from Iraq we see many, if not more, from the Falklands and Northern Ireland. And the numbers are rising."
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Thursday, March 20, 2014

Trauma-suicide link confirmed

Link between trauma of Troubles and suicidal behaviour is confirmed
Belfast Telegraph
20 MARCH 2014

A direct link between suicidal behaviour in Northern Ireland and traumatic or conflict-related experiences has been found for the first time.

The findings are based on extensive data from the University of Ulster's major study of the population's mental health as part of the World Health Organisation's World Mental Health Survey Initiative.

The university carried out detailed analysis of suicidal thoughts, plans and attempts in a sample of more than 4,000 people.

The research is based upon the Mental Health Survey Initiative carried out in Northern Ireland.

This is one of a series of identical studies undertaken in more than 30 countries across the world which assess mental health based on psychiatric criteria and symptoms. Comparisons with other published international studies show that Northern Ireland has one of the highest rates of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), with high levels of experiencing violence associated with the conflict in Northern Ireland.
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Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Gulf War Veteran's body found in car, 4 months after he died

Body of former soldier, 42, lay in van parked at pub for FOUR MONTHS
Paul O'Brien, 42, found in vehicle after it was finally towed by council
Fought in first Gulf War and served two tours of Northern Ireland
Pub landlady made repeated calls to police to have van removed
Daily Mail
1 April 2013

The body of a former soldier lay undiscovered in a van parked at a pub for four months despite attempts by the landlord to have the vehicle removed.

Paul O'Brien, from Cambridge, who fought in the first Gulf War and served two tours in Northern Ireland, was found in the back of the vehicle after it was towed away by the council.

The 42-year-old, who once carried the body of his best friend for five miles after he was killed on a reconnaissance mission in Southern Ireland, has been described as a 'kind man.' The maroon van had been parked at the Lazy Otter pub car park, near Stretham in the Cambridgeshire Fens from late October until the end of February.

But despite repeated calls from the owner of the pub to the police, no one came to look at it.

'It was a total shock for all of us to learn that his body had been in the van all that time and very tragic,' said Annette Gwinnett, owner of the Lazy Otter.
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Monday, August 13, 2012

Traumatized UK veteran 'let down' by Army

Traumatised Chelmsford veteran 'let down' by Army
Monday, August 13, 2012
Essex Chronicle

AN EX-SOLDIER plagued by flashbacks of war claims the Army has left him high and dry since he left the Force.

Mark Griffiths served a total of 12 years in First Battalion Royal Anglian, including time in Northern Ireland, Afghanistan and Iraq.

But when he was discharged from the Army with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in July, he said he was alienated by his squadron for being "weak" and told he was not going to get a medical pension.

"The Army was my entire life and all I ever wanted to do since I was five-years-old," said Mark, 30, of Pickwick Avenue, Chelmsford.

"After all the years I have given them this is not what you expect to happen. I just get so many flashbacks, violent mood swings, depression – you just cannot sleep. It pretty much takes over your entire life.

"All I hear when I close my eyes is the sound, the loud noises, the screaming. I cannot even explain to you how it sounds."

Mark worked alongside fallen Chelmsford soldier Scott Hardy in Afghanistan. He was just one of his many friends who died in battle.

"Scott was a top bloke, he could talk to anyone and could always make me laugh," he said.

"It was so sad because on our rest and recuperation from Afghanistan he was telling me how he wanted to leave the Army and settle down with his girlfriend and have a family in Chelmsford.

"I found out through an officer casualty report, and it hit me really hard, it was beyond words.

"I have seen so many of my friends die and had to bury them all. There are people in their 80s that will not have been to as many funerals as me."
read more here

Monday, December 5, 2011

Northern Ireland stress disorder world's highest

NI stress disorder world's highest

Northern Ireland has the highest rate of post-traumatic stress disorder in the world, ahead of war-hit regions such as Israel and Lebanon, according to a major new report.

The cost of treating PTSD in the region is about £175m every year, with £46m being spent directly on helping those with problems linked to the Troubles.

Almost 40% of people questioned have experienced a conflict-related traumatic experience.

The findings are contained in a major new report by the Bamford Centre for Mental Health and Well, based at the University of Ulster and the Northern Ireland Centre for Trauma and Transformation (NICTT).

The study involved more than 30 countries, including nations with a recent history of civil conflict.
read more here

Monday, March 30, 2009

RAF veteran tells of post-traumatic stress disorder ordeal

RAF veteran tells of post-traumatic stress disorder ordeal
Mar 30 2009 By Craig McQueen

DURING his military career, Andy Lorimer saw action in warzones and troublespots including Iraq, the Balkans and Northern Ireland.

In his wedding photos, an impressive collection of medals are proudly pinned to his chest.

But the 46-year-old's bravery came at a cost and it's one he's still coming to terms with.

Andy, who joined the RAF when he was 21, has spent years trying to piece his life together after being diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.

At his worst, there were bouts of heavy drinking and irrational behaviour, including having to flee from a supermarket in panic because he realised he was not carrying a gun.

Only now is Andy, from Kirkcaldy, Fife, getting somewhere, thanks to the help of his new wife Nikki and the founders of a charity who are aiming to help more people just like him.

Andy said: "My PTSD probably started before the first Gulf War when we had to recover a couple of bodies.

"I wasn't conscious of it at the time.

"You just got on with your job and moved on to the next thing. You didn't build up the memories of it.

"And I started to work in higher and higher pressure environments. I would get where I wanted to be and then I would change and do something else as I liked the challenge.

"It meant I got involved in a lot of situations and saw a lot of things, which, when taken individually, you might be able to cope with. But mine was an accumulation of all those things."

Andy worked on Hercules aircraft during the first Gulf War before working with helicopter crews.

His varied career also saw him working with the Parachute Regiment and special forces and undercover in Northern Ireland.

He survived but saw many others lose their lives.

Andy said: "I lost a total of 13 friends - 12 in military action and one in a parachute accident.
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I Knew That I Had Post Traumatic Stress When I Fled Shops Because ...
Glasgow Daily Record - Glasgow,Scotland,UK

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Wounded soldier's attack trauma

Wounded soldier's attack trauma

The mother of a soldier wounded in a shooting at a Northern Ireland barracks in which two other soldiers died a week ago has spoken of her shock.

Pauline Fitzpatrick and husband Roy flew from Caerphilly, south Wales, to Northern Ireland to be at the beside of their son Marc, 21.

"You kind of prepare yourself for something happening in Afghanistan, not on a Saturday night," she said.

Mrs Fitzpatrick said her son was left "very traumatised" by the incident.

Sappers Mark Quinsey and Patrick Azimkar were killed outside the Antrim army base on 7 March.

Four men are being questioned.
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Thursday, October 30, 2008

Using poetry to tackle Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

Using poetry to tackle Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
When Peter Southern from Corby returned from duty in The Falklands, he buried all he'd seen and experienced, deep inside himself.

For years he carried those feelings and didn't even tell his wife what he'd witnessed during the conflict.

It was only a chance incident at work that brought out the tide of emotions that Peter had kept hidden away for years.

Peter was diagnosed as having Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. He'd served in the army during the Northern Ireland conflicts and The Falklands War.

During his army career Peter said he was taught to blot out all the bad and horrific experiences and keep the British 'stiff upper lip'.

This often resulted in nightmares, bouts of depression and Peter even considered taking his own life.

But Peter is fighting back and helping others in the process. He's started writing poetry and pouring his feelings and emotions onto paper.

He says its part of a healing process and his poems have also helped others suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

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Saturday, September 13, 2008

Life after war: when the guns fall silent

September 13, 2008

Life after war: when the guns fall silent
Special Air Service veteran and writer Andy McNab talks about the internal battle that begins when the fight is over
Robert Crampton
“The first time I killed a lad,” says Andy McNab, “it was 1979, I was with the Green Jackets in Northern Ireland, I was 19, and he wasn’t far away, I could see his eyes. I was absolutely sh****** myself. But you can’t say you were scared.” Did he talk to anyone about his feelings? “Absolutely not. It wasn’t the done thing, you’re worried about peer pressure and promotion and being down as a fruit. Besides, nobody wants to know about any failings, it’s a success, it’s what you do. It says in the manual, ‘The role of the infantry is to close with and destroy the enemy.’ The Army calls it ‘being kinetic’, which means blowing things up and killing people.”

When McNab passed selection for the Special Air Service in 1984, there was, he says, among his new elite comrades, more honesty regarding the dangers of combat. “You’re older and more confident, so you do talk about it more, mainly, ‘F*** that, I don’t want to do that again.’ But there was no system, no counselling, although a couple of lads used to sneak off to a charity in Wales for help. Delta Force [the US equivalent of the SAS] used to have an in-house psychologist. We would take the p***, but actually, it was a good idea.”

After McNab led Bravo Two Zero, the SAS patrol behind enemy lines during the first Gulf War which later gave rise to his 1994 bestseller, he had a couple of sessions back in Hereford with Dr Gordon Turnbull. “His claim to fame was he’d looked after the mountain rescue teams who were at Lockerbie. He talked to us about post-traumatic stress, what the symptoms were and so on. At the time I didn’t think I got a lot out of it.”

But as McNab has grown older (he is now 48) and wiser, he has become fully converted to the idea that some, not all, soldiers suffer post-traumatic stress and need help. His new book, his first work of non-fiction (many novels have intervened) since Immediate Action, the sequel to Bravo Two Zero, deals with the consequences of such stress on several of his former SAS colleagues, the members of Seven Troop of the book’s title. In particular, McNab tells the story of Frank Collins and Charles “Nish” Bruce, both of whom committed suicide several years after leaving the regiment, in 1998 and 2002 respectively.

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Friday, August 15, 2008


Omagh and me - 10 years on
'How I survived the bombing'
By Judith Cummings
BBC News

At ten past three today, I will remember the moment I survived 10 years ago.

I was 21 years old, I had just graduated from university with a degree that really should have been better, and I was spending the summer at home to gather my thoughts about what the big wide world would hold for me.

With nothing much happening, I was happy to work a day in a friend's shop while they were on holiday. I was filling in for another member of staff and it was my first day on the job.

It turned out to be a very quiet day money-wise, my friend and I were fretting that the owners would come home to a bad day's takings. But then at about 2pm business started to pick up.

More and more people came into the shop - when we asked a customer about the increase in numbers down 'our end' of the town we were told about a bomb-scare up at the courthouse.

We had no fear and were glad to hear the till ringing a bit more frequently.

In my 21 years, I had lived a life removed from the Troubles - yes I saw it on TV but it never came too close.

I was a Protestant who had been brought up to have friends of both faiths, some of my first friends were the children of my parents' Catholic friends. It wasn't until I went to primary school that I really gained Protestant friends.

I had spent the previous three years telling my university friends in England that Northern Ireland really wasn't that bad anymore and that I lived in a quiet little town, where nothing really happened and where pretty much everyone got along.


Then on 15 August my life changed.
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Ten years on
Event remembers atrocity victims

Wording behind service boycott
Audio slideshow

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Northern Ireland Centre for Trauma and Transformation

As you look at this picture from New York, I'm sure you're wondering what it has to do with Northern Ireland. Later in this article, you'll see what ties it all together. The obvious connection we tend to miss is that trauma does not know national boundaries. It does not know one skin pigmentation from another. It does not know gender or sexual preference. PTSD is all inclusive.

PTSD does not just strike the individual exposed to the event. It hits everyone they come into contact with. Their families get hit with the blunt force of a sledge hammer as they understand their life has just changed because of an event they had nothing to do with.

In my case it was Vietnam. I was just a kid when that was going on, yet years later the Vietnam war changed my life when I met my husband.

For others it's the same story. Today we focus on Iraq and Afghanistan veterans coming home changed by the traumas of combat. What we don't realize is that there are thousands of people all over this country who meet these veterans without a single clue of what is coming with them. They fall in love without seeing the pain buried behind the smiles. I get contacted by people all the time who are just getting involved with combat veterans wondering what they can do for the veteran at the same time they are looking for help for themselves. They see past the pain seeing the whole person and they love them. They have seen their own lives change because of love.

For the people coming into contact with Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, it's not much different. What is deep inside of them is still there but it's trapped behind the walls their mind has built to protect them from suffering more pain. Human nature always finds a way to inspire hope within them and they try to find happiness. They try to build relationships seeking what we all need as humans.

Sometimes the symptoms of PTSD arise years after the event. As you'll read later, people are still discovering that the events of 9-11 changed them the same way the events in Belfast changed the survivors there. It happens with any traumatic event. It's up to us to make sure that when we do come into contact with people wounded by the traumatic event that we hold their hand and take them to the help we know they need. kc

Horror, despair and how help came from Omagh

Thursday, 14 August 2008
While the Omagh outrage wreaked devastation its legacy has also helped others traumatised by horrific events around the globe. Kerry McKittrick hears about a unique form of cognitive therapy which was developed after the bomb

David Bolton is one of the founder members of the Northern Ireland Centre for Trauma and Transformation in Omagh where a special cognitive therapy, which is based on counselling, is used. He says:

The Omagh bomb was a different situation from something like the Enniskillen tragedy. When the Poppy Day bomb happened, there was very much a sense of ongoing war. With Omagh, there were ceasefires and the Good Friday Agreement had been signed four months before. The Enniskillen bomb had revealed the obvious physical impact of a bomb, but we weren't sure what the psychological impact would be.

I got involved in Omagh an hour after the bomb went off. I led the team that was based in the local leisure centre that evening. It was being used as an information centre for relatives to go to. It was immediately clear that this was an appalling tragedy and that conventional services wouldn't be able to cope and additional ones would have to be laid on.

The Monday after the bomb, myself and my colleagues met with the then Secretary of State, Mo Mowlam, to discuss what would be needed in terms of mental health. She asked us to present her with a plan within three weeks.

What happened was that the temporary group, the Omagh Community Trauma and Recovery Team, came into force on the Tuesday, three days after the bomb. At that point this was a multi-agency response, not just us but services like GPs as well. That group existed for three and a half years, and during that time we saw over 700 people. A large proportion of people came in with problems such as stress and mental health issues. Others came with practical problems such as unemployment. We were a group for mental health, but we didn't turn anyone away. We were an obvious first point of contact for people who needed help after the bomb.

In the early days we did studies into the impact of the bomb on the local people and their families. These studies were singularly important in how we approached people. They brought together the wisdom and experience of the local community, and the excellent work of the local services.

We were very lucky for with this information, and with the help of the cognitive therapy from Oxford University, we were able to develop a cognitive therapy technique tailored to the Post Traumatic Stress Disorder people were suffering after the bomb.

The one event that sticks in my mind was when a schoolgirl brought her friend in by the hand and asked us if there was anything we could do for her. That particular moment made us all very emotional as it showed us how family and friends were reacting and supporting others through the tragedy.

The permanent centre, the Northern Ireland Centre for Trauma and Transformation, was driven by two main concerns.

The first was that the treatment developed would not be lost and the second was that there would something that came out of the tragedy that would make a contribution to all of the communities in need, not just Omagh. This is how our humanitarian work started.

We've developed our humanitarian work to bring the treatment to other places that needed it. I remember sitting in the office of the New York Fire Department after 9/11. We were looking out of the window at where the Twin Towers used to be, having a very moving conversation with members of the Fire Department and their clinicians.

It was this conversation that led us to invite representatives from the Fire Department, Police Department and Port Authority over here to see what we had done.
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