AIHW news

Recent study paves way for new partnership and greater opportunities

Last year, the AIHW reported that 292 Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel* took their own life between 2001 and 2014. It was the first time accurate rates of suicide deaths among ex-serving ADF personnel have been reported.

This figure was updated to 325 in Incidence of suicide among serving and ex-serving Australian Defence Force personnel 2001–2015: In-brief summary report released June 30 June 2017.

This updated report was part of a series commissioned by the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA), with support from the Department of Defence. It examined military-related characteristics that may put ex-serving men at greater risk of suicide. ‘It found that lower rank, involuntary discharge and short length of service were associated with a greater likelihood of suicide,’ said Head of the Population Health Unit at the AIHW, Claire Sparke.

‘Reports like these can only happen through developing strategic relationships. This is a great example of how these partnerships can be used in previously unreported areas,’ said Ms Sparke.

Further building on the relationship between the AIHW and the DVA, the two organisations will start a 3-year strategic relationship from 1 July 2017 to develop a comprehensive profile on the health and welfare of Australia’s ex-serving (veteran) population.

‘A new unit will be established to progress this important work, which will assess the current status and future needs of veterans and their families, in support of the DVA’s strategic, research and data needs,’ said Dr Lynelle Moon, Head of the AIHW Health Group.

‘We are in a strong position as an independent and trusted Australian Government agency and as an accredited Integrating Authority—with the legislation and technical capability to undertake data linkage work— to make a difference,’ she said.

A more technical report describing the methods and detailed results of the AIHW’s work on suicide among ADF personnel is expected to be published later in the year.

*with at least one day of service since 2001

From 2001–2015…

  • there were 325 certified suicide deaths
  • 51% were no longer serving in the ADF
  • 28% were serving full time
  • 21% were serving in the reserve (active or inactive)
  • men no longer serving—14% more likely to die by suicide than men in the general community
  • men aged 18–24 no longer serving—twice as likely to die by suicide than counterparts in the general community
  • men discharged involuntarily—2.4 times more likely to die by suicide than those discharged voluntarily
  • men who left the ADF after less than 1 year of service—2.4 times more likely to die by suicide than those who served 10 years+.

* Figures taken from Incidence of suicide among serving and ex-serving Australian Defence Force personnel 2001–2015: in-brief summary report.

** Numbers reflect people with at least 1 day of ADF service since 2001.

Posted under Health.

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