Suicides by length of service

Length of service describes the time between joining the ADF and separation1. In this report, length of service is presented in five groups (ranging from less than 1 year to more than 20 years).

The overall average length of service was just over 10 years. The proportions of ex-serving males and females into varying length of service comprised:

  • 13.3% of males and 17.5% of females had served less than 1 year
  • 26.4% of males and 32.1% of females had between 1 and 5 years of service
  • 18.2% of males and 21.3% of females had between 5 and 10 years of service
  • 18.8% of males and 18.8% of females had between 10 and 20 years of service
  • 22.8% of males and 9.9% of females having served over 20 years.

Suicide rates for ex-serving males decrease as length of service increases. The suicide rate was lowest for males who served more than 20 years (15.4 per 100,000 population per year) and highest for those who had served less than one year (46.4 per 100,000 population per year).

For ex-serving females, rates of suicide were similar for all lengths of service.

Table 8: Suicide rate by length of service, ex-serving members, 2002–2019

Length of service (years)(a)

Ex-serving males:
Suicide rate per 100,000 population per year

Ex-serving females:
Suicide rate per 100,000 population per year

<1

                                                                               46.4

                                                                                    18.9

1–<5

                                                                               30.3

                                                                                    15.8

5–<10

32.1

14.2

10 or more(b)

. .

10.7

 

 

 

10<20

29.1

n.p.

20 or more

15.4

n.p.

Notes:

n.p. Not available for publication but included in totals where applicable, unless otherwise indicated.

. . Not applicable

  1. The time between the date of hire and date of separation from the ADF.
  2. The 10 or more category was used for ex-serving females because further disaggregation was not possible due to small number of suicide deaths.

Source: AIHW analysis of linked Defence historical personnel data–PMKeyS–NDI data 1985–2019.

Figure 12: Suicide rate by length of service, ex-serving males, 2002–2019

Source: AIHW analysis of linked Defence historical personnel data–PMKeyS–NDI data 1985–2019.

Figure 13: Suicide rate by length of service, ex-serving females, 2002–2019

Source: AIHW analysis of linked Defence historical personnel data-PMKeyS–NDI data 1985–2019.

The suicide rates for ex-serving males by five length of service groups were relatively stable over time.

Due to the small number of suicide deaths among ex-serving females, suicide rates by length of service over time are not reported.

The interactive graph below presents the suicide rates for ex-serving males in each of the length of service groups, for all 3-year periods from 2002-2004 to 2017-2019.

Note: The confidence intervals in this figure can be used to determine the significance of differences between the suicide rates calculated for the ex-serving within a given 3-year period. However, they cannot be used to determine the significance of differences between rates calculated for the ex-serving population for overlapping 3-year time periods (for example 2002–2004 and 2003–2005).

Data underlying this graph are available in Supplementary table S6.5. See Data for a link to the tables.

Please note, data for more recent years are subject to change; see Technical notes for further detail.

 

  1. Note that the separation point used in this study reflects full separation from the ADF – that is, when a member is no longer in permanent or reserve service. For example, a member who transitions from full time service to the inactive reserves is counted as permanent for the purpose of length of service calculations until he or she separates from the reserves.