Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (2022) Serving and ex-serving Australian Defence Force members who have served since 1985: suicide monitoring 1997 to 2020, AIHW, Australian Government, accessed 31 January 2023.
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. (2022). Serving and ex-serving Australian Defence Force members who have served since 1985: suicide monitoring 1997 to 2020. Retrieved from https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/veterans/serving-and-ex-serving-adf-suicide-monitoring-2022
Serving and ex-serving Australian Defence Force members who have served since 1985: suicide monitoring 1997 to 2020. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 16 November 2022, https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/veterans/serving-and-ex-serving-adf-suicide-monitoring-2022
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. Serving and ex-serving Australian Defence Force members who have served since 1985: suicide monitoring 1997 to 2020 [Internet]. Canberra: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2022 [cited 2023 Jan. 31]. Available from: https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/veterans/serving-and-ex-serving-adf-suicide-monitoring-2022
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) 2022, Serving and ex-serving Australian Defence Force members who have served since 1985: suicide monitoring 1997 to 2020, viewed 31 January 2023, https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/veterans/serving-and-ex-serving-adf-suicide-monitoring-2022
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Length of service describes the time between joining the ADF and separation1. For suicide rates analysis in this report, length of service is presented in five groups (ranging from less than 1 year to more than 20 years).
The proportions of ex-serving males and females by varying length of service were as follows:
The average length of service was higher for males than females (11.3 years and 7.9 years respectively).
Suicide rates for ex-serving males decreased as length of service increased. The suicide rate was lowest for males who served more than 20 years (16.5 per 100,000 population per year) and highest for those who had served less than one year (47.1 per 100,000 population per year). These are significantly different from the 1-<5, 5-<10 and 10-<20 categories, which are themselves statistically similar.
For ex-serving females, rates of suicide were statistically similar for all lengths of service. This is shown in Table 8 and Figure 12 below.
Source: AIHW analysis of linked Defence historical personnel data–PMKeyS–NDI data 1985–2020.
The suicide rates for ex-serving males by five length of service groups were relatively stable over time, apart from a large drop over the years 2004 to 2007 among the <1 year cohort. The reason for this is unknown and may be a result of low numbers. Nevertheless, this fluctuation in suicide rate was not statistically significant relative to the suicide rates 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 (Figure 13) presents the suicide rates for ex-serving males in each of the length of service groups, for all 3-year periods from 1997-1999 to 2018-2020.
This time series line graph shows the weighted average suicide rate per 100,000 population per year of ex-serving males by length of service over time by 3-year periods from 1997 to 1999, to 2018 to 2020.
Note: The confidence intervals in this figure can be used to determine whether there is a statistically significant difference between the suicide rates calculated for the ADF between different 3-year periods. However, they cannot be used to determine whether there is a statistically significant difference between rates calculated for the ADF population for overlapping 3-year time periods (for example 2002–2004 and 2003–2005).
Data underlying this graph are available in supplementary table S6.6. See Data for a link to the tables.
Please note, data for more recent years are subject to change; see the Technical notes for further detail.
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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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