ITV Report 26 December 2019 at 9:21pm
- Video report by ITV News Correspondent Paul Davies
A former soldier struggling with PTSD didn’t expect to see this Christmas – and credits fellow veterans at a small charity for saving his life.
Matt Cole, who toured Northern Ireland as a soldier, said he has attempted suicide once and come close to it on several other occasions.
It all began five years after leaving the army but, thanks to All Call Signs, it hasn’t ended for him the way it has for so many other comrades with similar struggles.
“If it wasn’t for them I have no doubt whatsoever I wouldn’t be here,” Mr Cole told ITV News.
“I find myself just breaking down in tears more often than not; for no apparent reason just wanting to cry and disappear and crawl up into a ball and just not exist.”
Mr Cole was brought back from the brink by the charity, who he says would refuse to leave him alone and abandon him.
The charity can mobilise hundreds of volunteers to search for a veteran reported by family as vulnerable and missing.
Through social media they additionally reach hundreds of thousands in the former military community.
In their first 18 months, they report 79 successful interventions.
“You know, if I’m honest with you they just nagged, they just wouldn’t shut up,” Mr Cole said.
“But then you have to talk to me… and what was actually going to help.”
Daniel Arnold, of All Call Signs, said: “That’s 79 individuals that are at home and getting mental health support and treatment that may not have been before the conception of what we’ve done.”
Mr Cole is just one they’ve helped.
Telling his story is still painful for him but he wants others to hear it.
“If this [his story] going out just makes one person reach out and talk… then it’s worth it,” he said.
“I am breathing still. I’ve got a roof over my head and I’m still breathing and there are so many that don’t get that.”
He can see a future now, something he knows other veterans are still struggling with.
What to do if you or someone you know needs help:
- You can chat to All Call Signs online on their website here.
- If you are in distress or need some support, the Samaritans are available 24 hours a day on 116 123 or through their website.
- Combat Stress is available 24 hours a day on 0800 138 1619 for veterans and their families, 0800 323 444 for serving personnel and their families, via text on 07537 404719, or through their website.
- SSAFA is available on 0800 731 4880 or through their website.
- The Government’s Veterans’ Gateway offers advice and help for veterans seeking support and can be contacted on 0800 802 1212 or through the website.
- Mind offers a helpline on 0300 123 3393 from 9am to 6pm.
- Help for Heroes provide lifelong support to service personnel and military veterans with injuries, illnesses and wounds sustained while serving in the British Armed Forces.
YOU ARE NOT ALONE
If you or a Veteran you know is suffering from PTSD, Anxiety, Loneliness or Depression, you are not alone.
The – Minds At War – Crisis Support Helpline Number is open 24/7 and a First Responder is on call at all times.
- 0800 031 4368
You can also ring this same number during normal hours and seek advice, support and guidance.