“Due to His Abnormal Mental State”: Exploring Accounts of Suicide among First World War Veterans Treated at the Ontario Military Hospital at Cobourg, 1919-1946


  • Kandice Bogaert Wilfred Laurier University




Relying on records of veterans’ hospital admissions, and service and pension files of the Canadian Expeditionary Force, this paper explores authoritative accounts of First World War veterans’ mortality attributed to suicide and accidental causes among veterans treated as mental cases at the Ontario Military Hospital at Cobourg, Ontario. Military and pension officials invariably ascribed veterans’ suicide attempts and deaths to moments of temporary insanity or chronic mental illness, which were in turn attributed to hereditary or personal failing. Veterans’ own statements within these files reveal discrepancies between the storylines authored by and about veterans, emphasizing the impact of war and the “tension of agency” in veteran deaths by suicide.

Author Biography

Kandice Bogaert, Wilfred Laurier University

Kandace Bogaert is an AMS History of Medicine Postdoctoral fellow at the Laurier Centre for Military, Strategic and Disarmament Studies (LCMSDS) in the Department of History at Wilfrid Laurier University.