Ongoing monitoring provides greater insights into suicide among ADF personnel

Today the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) released the third annual update of information around suicide among serving, reserve and contemporary ex-serving (at least 1 day of service since 2001) Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel.

The report, National suicide monitoring of serving and ex-serving Australian Defence Force personnel: 2020 update is part of an ongoing body of work commissioned by the Department of Veterans’ Affairs and includes new information on suicide deaths between 2001 and 2018.

‘The information in this report will inform improvements in suicide prevention and other services for serving and ex-serving ADF personnel and their families,’ said AIHW spokesperson Ms. Louise Gates.

‘The report shows that men who were currently serving full-time or in the reserve were considerably less likely to die by suicide than Australian men generally. However, this was not the case for ex-serving men, who were 21% more likely to die by suicide than their counterparts in the general community after adjusting for age,’ Ms. Gates said.  

‘While the rate of suicide for ex-serving women is lower than that for ex-serving men, ex-serving women were more than twice as likely to die by suicide than other Australian women after adjusting for age.’

The report also identifies military-related characteristics associated with higher suicide rates within the group of discharged men.

‘Men who were discharged from the ADF for medical reasons were more likely to die by suicide than those discharged for voluntary reasons.’ Ms. Gates said.

‘The rate of suicide for ex-serving men who were discharged for voluntary reasons was similar to all Australian men the same age.’

For ex-serving men, the rate of suicide was 28 per 100,000, which was higher than the rates for serving (11 per 100,000) and reserve men (12 per 100,000).

In total, there were 465 suicide deaths among serving, reserve and contemporary) ex-serving ADF personnel between 2001 and 2018.

 ‘Further work is underway by the AIHW to build a comprehensive profile of the health and welfare of Australia’s veterans, including those currently and no longer serving, as well as their families and carers, Ms. Gates said.

For advice on how to report on mental illness and suicide responsibly:

For immediate advice and support:

Open Arms - Veterans and Families Counselling: 1800 011 046, or

ADF All-hours Support Line: 1800 628 036

Lifeline: 13 11 14, or

Suicide Call Back Service: 1300 659 467, or

Beyond Blue Support Service: 1300 22 4636, or

Media enquiries: [email protected]

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