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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This is AIHW’s fifth annual report on suicide among permanent, reserve, and ex-serving ADF members (‘member’ is used throughout to refer to both serving and ex-serving). This report includes members with at least one day of ADF service from 1 January 1985 to 31 December 2020, with the suicides monitored over the period 1 January 1997 to 31 December 2020. This monitoring period is expanded and includes more years than in the previous report (1 January 2001 to 31 December 2019). The expanded monitoring period was included following investigations of ADF member deaths data through the years 1997-2000, and was updated to include 2020 as the most recent year of data available.
The general patterns, including rates of suicide and comparisons with the Australian population, remain similar to previous AIHW reports. However, as the suicide monitoring period used in this report has expanded there is an increase in the number of suicides.
Further information on the veteran population scope and expanded monitoring period can be found in the Technical notes.
Permanent and reserve males are about half as likely to die by suicide as Australian males (49% and 46% lower respectively).
Ex-serving males are 27% more likely to die by suicide than Australian males, and ex-serving females are 107% more likely (or about twice as likely) to die by suicide than Australian females. However, rates vary within the subpopulations of the ex-serving cohort.
The suicide rate for ADF ex-serving males who separate voluntarily is similar to the general Australian population as measured by the age-adjusted suicide rate.
The suicide rate for ADF ex-serving males who separate for involuntarily medical reasons is around three times the rate of those who separate for voluntarily (69.8 and 22.5 per 100,000 population per year respectively).
Around half (49%) of all ADF males and 66% of all ADF females who died by suicide were identified as having mood (affective) disorders.
Around 4 in 10 (41%) ADF males who died by suicide were identified as having problems in spousal relationship circumstances, with nearly 3 in 10 (29%) identified as having suicide ideation.
Almost 2 in 5 (38%) ADF females who died by suicide were identified as having a personal history of self-harm, and problems in spousal relationship circumstances (38%).
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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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