A Canadian soldier eyes a compound of interest during an operation in the village of Khenjakak, Afghanistan. Canadian troops quietly stopped handing captured Taliban fighters over to Afghan authorities in mid-2011. Steve Rennie/Canadian Press
Defence officials have confirmed that military police are investigating the death of a member of the Royal 22e Regiment at CFBValcartier in Chandler, Que.
Capt. Mathieu Dufour, public affairs officer at Valcartier Garrison, confirmed that SylvainLelièvre was found dead in his home.
Dufour said military police are investigating the soldier's death and that suicide is one hypothesis they are looking into.
A friend of the family, Vera Wall, told CBC she had spoken with Lelièvre's sister.
Wall said the family is in shock.
She said she met the 46-year-old last year when she organized a "Welcome Home" evening for Gaspé soldiers who had fought in Afghanistan.
"He was so happy that night, he was like a little clown that we had honoured him and his other friends. He was really glad, and I didn't expect this of him," she said.
Lelièvre has been with the Canadian Forces since 1985 and did two tours in Bosnia and one in Afghanistan.
His death marks the fourth involving Canadian Forces personnel in recent days, with the other three suicides.
Military probes 3 suicides in under a week
The Canadian military had already said it would be investigating the deaths of the other three veterans, who served in the war in Afghanistan, in a matter of days:
- Last Wednesday, the body of Warrant Officer Michael McNeil was found at CFB Petawawa.
- A day earlier, Master Cpl. William Elliott died at his home near CFB Shilo in southwestern Manitoba.
- Master Bombardier TravisHalmrast died in a Lethbridge, Alta., hospital after a suicide attempt in a jail.
Reports of the apparent suicide come as Liberal Senator Romeo Dallaire, arguably Canada's highest-profile military victim of post-traumatic stress, nodded off at the wheel and crashed into a traffic barrier on Parliament Hill.
The retired general later admitted that the news last week that three Canadian soldiers had killed themselves, coupled with the coming 20th anniversary of the Rwanda genocide, have left him unable to sleep, even with medication.
Defence Minister Rob Nicholson implored those who are struggling to seek help.
"My thoughts and prayers continue to be with those who have been affected by these recent suicides," he said in a statement.
"We all have a role to play in reaching out to those who are hurting and encourage them to get help. I want to remind those may be going through difficult times that you are not alone and there is support available to get you through this."
The Canadian Forces Member Assistance Program has a confidential 24/7 toll-free telephone advisory and referral service for all military personnel and their families. The number is: 1-800-268-7708.