Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (2021) Serving and ex-serving Australian Defence Force members who have served since 1985: suicide monitoring 2001 to 2019, AIHW, Australian Government, accessed 11 August 2022.
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. (2021). Serving and ex-serving Australian Defence Force members who have served since 1985: suicide monitoring 2001 to 2019. Retrieved from https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/veterans/serving-and-ex-serving-adf-suicide-monitoring-2021
Serving and ex-serving Australian Defence Force members who have served since 1985: suicide monitoring 2001 to 2019. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 29 September 2021, https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/veterans/serving-and-ex-serving-adf-suicide-monitoring-2021
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. Serving and ex-serving Australian Defence Force members who have served since 1985: suicide monitoring 2001 to 2019 [Internet]. Canberra: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2021 [cited 2022 Aug. 11]. Available from: https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/veterans/serving-and-ex-serving-adf-suicide-monitoring-2021
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) 2021, Serving and ex-serving Australian Defence Force members who have served since 1985: suicide monitoring 2001 to 2019, viewed 11 August 2022, https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/veterans/serving-and-ex-serving-adf-suicide-monitoring-2021
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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:
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.
Length of service (years)(a)
Suicide rate per 100,000 population per year
Suicide rate per 100,000 population per year
10 or more(b)
20 or more
n.p. Not available for publication but included in totals where applicable, unless otherwise indicated.
. . Not applicable
Source: AIHW analysis of linked Defence historical personnel data–PMKeyS–NDI data 1985–2019.
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.
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.
If you need help or support, please contact:
Open Arms - Veterans and Families Counselling 1800 011 046
Open Arms Suicide Intervention page
Defence All-hours Support Line (ASL) 1800 628 036
Defence Member and Family Helpline 1800 624 608
Defence Chaplaincy Support 1300 333 362
ADF Mental Health Services
Lifeline 13 11 14
Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467
Beyond Blue Support Service 1300 22 4636
For information on support provided by DVA, see:
Some readers may find parts of this content confronting or distressing.
Please carefully consider your needs when reading the following information about suicide. This report contains information on numbers and rates of death by suicide for serving and ex-serving members of the ADF. This report may be distressing to some readers.
If this material raises concerns for you, support is available. Please contact Lifeline on 13 11 14, or Defence All-hours Support Line on 1800 628 036, or Open Arms - Veterans and Families Counselling, available free of charge, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, or see other ways you can seek help.
The information included here places an emphasis on data, and as such, can appear to depersonalise the pain and loss behind the statistics. The AIHW acknowledges the individuals, families and communities affected by ADF member and veteran suicide each year in Australia.
The AIHW supports the use of the Mindframe guidelines on responsible, accurate and safe suicide and self-harm reporting. Please consider these guidelines when reporting on statistics on the monitoring of suicide and self-harm.
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