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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The reasons that ADF members separate from the ADF can be categorised into four broad groups:
The separation date used in this report is when a member leaves the ADF entirely, that is when they are no longer a permanent or reserve member. Separation reason is therefore the reason recorded for leaving their last engagement with the ADF.
Due to a change in the way the reason for separating the ADF was recorded in 2002, analysis is presently only reported for ADF members who separated from 1 January 2003 onwards. These members comprise 41% of the ex-serving cohort. Among this cohort:
Between 2003 and 2020, the suicide rate for ex-serving males by reason for separation was lowest for those who separated either voluntarily or for contractual/administrative reasons (22.5 and 18.6 per 100,000 population per year respectively) and highest for those whose reason for separation was involuntary medical (69.8 per 100,000 population per year). It should be noted that there was no statistical difference between the voluntary, other involuntary, and contractual/admin groups.
This is demonstrated in Table 7 below.
Source: AIHW analysis of linked Defence historical personnel data–PMKeyS–NDI data 1985–2020.
The age-adjusted analysis for the male voluntary and contractual/administrative separation cohorts indicates that there is no statistical difference in suicide rate between these cohorts and the Australian population. Similar analyses indicate that the involuntary separation cohorts have a higher rate of suicide than the Australian population, as seen in supplementary table S3.1.
Further work is underway to investigate the feasibility of comparing rates of suicide between the involuntary medical separation cohort and other appropriate alternative populations, such as people with similar medical conditions.
Between 2003 and 2020, the suicide rates for ex-serving females by reason for separation were statistically similar for voluntary separation, involuntary medical separation, and other involuntary separation (18.3, 25.8, and 16.9 per 100,000 population per year respectively).
Since there were no suicide deaths among ex-serving females who separated for contractual or administrative reasons this column does not appear in Figure 11 below. The wide confidence intervals due to low numbers make it difficult to comment with any more certainty.
Due to the shortened period of usable data and overall low numbers the time series graphs for reason for separation will not be presented. Since these values are all statistically similar there are no comparisons given here with the Australian female population. The SMR for the overall ex-serving female cohort is given in the Suicide by sex and service status group section.
Data underlying these graphs are available in supplementary table S4.1 and 4.2 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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