Football legend Terry Butcher says son Christopher's life 'spiralled downwards' after PTSD diagnosis
PUBLISHED: 10:51 22 May 2018 | UPDATED: 11:20 22 May 2018
Former Ipswich Town and England captain Terry Butcher has spoken of his anguish following the inquest of his son Christopher, who died last year.
Christopher Butcher, a former Army captain who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, was found dead at his parents’ home in Bawdsey following a battle with severe and complex post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
An inquest held at Suffolk Coroner’s Court in Ipswich yesterday heard the 35-year-old was found by his father on October 16. Toxicology tests revealed he had a mixture of prescription and illicit drugs in his system. He also had an enlarged heart.
The hearing was told the former Army captain suffered flashbacks and nightmares and would hear voices in his head. Due to his severe PTSD symptoms, he had split from his wife, Laura, and moved in with his parents in 2016.
In a statement read after the inquest, Mr Butcher, who grew up in Lowestoft, said: “Christopher passed away seven months ago but in reality, the Christopher that we all knew and loved had ceased to exist years before. Diagnosed with severe and complex PTSD, his life spiralled downwards as the demons took control of his mind.
“In truth, after intense tours of Iraq and Afghanistan, he became a victim of war. His circumstances are all too familiar, our country has many veterans suffering from the same situation, released from the armed forces too early and having to rely on an overloaded NHS that is ill-equipped and underfunded to cope.”
He added: “Christopher had a glittering career in the Army ahead of him, a loving wife and dreams of having children of his own. His unnecessary death has deprived us of a wonderful son, husband, brother, grandson, friend and comrade, who touched the hearts of all who met him.
“As a family, we ask that he be remembered as a hero, who so proudly served his country and who paid the ultimate price for his bravery.
“We also ask that our country considers what is the right support it should provide to help heroes and victims of war.”
Dr Dan Sharpstone, assistant coroner, said: “I suspect Chris was hounded day and night by an enemy he couldn’t see, in a war without end.”
Dr Sharpstone concluded that the 35-year-old died from an enlarged heart due to uncertain causes “on the back of PTSD”.
‘Every veteran’s death is a tragedy’ – charity
A leading charity for veterans’ mental health said it receives more than 2,000 referrals per year from former servicemen and women.
Sue Freeth, chief executive of Combat Stress, said: “Every veteran’s death is a tragedy, and our heartfelt condolences go out to Mr Butcher’s family.
“PTSD is a very serious mental health condition that affects a small but significant number of veterans.
“Left untreated, it can have a devastating impact on those affected and their loved ones.
“Each year Combat Stress receives more than 2,000 referrals from former servicemen and women struggling with their mental health.
“We provide specialist treatment for conditions including PTSD, depression and anxiety at our treatment centres.
“Despite the work we do, we know many veterans continue to struggle in silence. We strongly encourage them, or their loved ones, to contact us.”