Danny Johnston, 35, (pictured) was found hanged last May after suffering with PTSD since he was discharged from the army
Prince Harry and Meghan have made a vow to a grieving mother to help servicemen and women who are struggling with PTSD.
Viv Johnston, 62, saw the destructive effects PTSD can have first hand when her son, Danny Johnston, 35, killed himself last year.
The royal couple invited Viv, from Bognor Regis, West Sussex, to meet them before the military Endeavour Awards in London last week.
Danny had been struggling to cope with PTSD and spiralled into a depression after he was discharged from the army when police found him carrying Valium tablets.
Viv said he was self-medicating with them because he feared he would be discharged if the army thought he had mental health issues.
Prince Harry, 34, who is himself an army veteran, had previously written to mother-of-three Viv when Danny was found hanged last May.
Viv Johnston, 62, was invited to speak to Prince Harry and Meghan before the Endeavour Awards last week after Harry wrote to her when her son, Danny, killed himself last year
Prince Harry (pictured at the Endeavour Awards) had previously written to Viv last year when Danny’s hanged body was found
The royal couple stayed talking with Viv for so long that the awards ceremony had to be delayed
Viv said, ‘Harry was very sympathetic to what is currently going on with veterans and the problems of suicide,’ in an interview with the Mirror.
The royal couple and Viv stayed chatting for so long that the Endeavour Awards ceremony ended up being delayed.
She said: ‘Three very panicked blokes came in at one stage and said “Sir, we have to go, people are waiting” and he said “well, I’m talking”.’
Since leaving the Army in 2015, the Prince has focused his work on the creation of the Invictus Games and Heads Together – a campaign which seeks to challenge the stigma of mental health problems
Harry and Meghan also spoke to Viv about a new mental health support charity for veterans that was set up after Danny died.
All Call Signs is a support network that sends out emergency beacon alerts when servicemen or women go missing.
Viv said: ‘I asked if they would like an All Call Signs wrist band. I expected someone to take them away once I handed them over but both he and Meghan smiled, said thank you and put them straight on’.
Danny started his military career in the Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment and was then recruited into the elite Special Reconnaissance Regiment.
Danny Johnston (pictured with his brother, Lucas) was self-medicating his mental health problems with Valium that hadn’t been prescribed to him
He took part in undercover missions in Iraq and Afghanistan for four years, sometimes working on his own to pinpoint targets for the SAS.
Once he was discharged from the army he started drinking and spiralled out of control.
Danny’s story is all too familiar.
Roughly 42 ex-servicemen and women suffering with PTSD committed suicide last year but the true scale of the crisis isn’t known because the Ministry of Defence doesn’t keep a record.
In the last week of September five servicemen killed themselves.
Prince Harry and Meghan also spoke to Viv about a new mental health support charity for veterans that was set up after Danny died
This wasn’t the first time Harry had been in touch with a grief-stricken family.
In 2018 Harry cried as he spoke to the family of Warrant Officer Nathan Hunt, 39, who had served with him in Afghanistan but was found hanged after suffering nightmares.
Harry, who has completed two tours of Afghanistan, is no stranger to working with veterans and people struggling with mental health issues.
Last year he sent a letter to Colour Sergeant Trevor Coult, 43, expressing his concerns for the mental health of veterans.
He asked Sergeant Coult to gather details about recent deaths of veterans on his behalf and pass on any information.
Since leaving the Army in 2015, the Prince has focused his work on the creation of the Invictus Games and Heads Together – a campaign which seeks to challenge the stigma of mental health problems.
Anyone who needs help can call Samaritans night or day on 116 123 (UK), or visit them online by clicking here.