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Caution: Some people may find parts of this content confronting or distressing.
Please carefully consider your needs when reading the following information about suicide and self-harm. If this material raises concerns for you contact Lifeline on 13 11 14, 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 suicide each year in Australia.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander readers are advised that information relating to Indigenous suicide and self-harm is included.
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.
There is ongoing concern in the Australian community about suicide in serving and ex-serving ADF personnel. In particular, ex-serving ADF personnel have historically faced an increased risk of suicide. Reducing the rate of serving and ex-serving suicide is a priority for the Australian Government.
To increase understanding of the complex issue of suicide in serving and ex-serving ADF personnel the AIHW has been commissioned by the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) to develop reliable data and monitor the incidence of suicide in the 3 ADF service status groups—personnel serving full time, personnel serving in the reserves and ex-serving personnel (see Box 1).
Age-standardised suicide mortality ratio of Australian Defence Force personnel, 2007–09 to 2005–17.
The graph shows the age-standardised suicide mortality ratios of male serving, reserve and ex-serving ADF personnel to an age-matched population of Australian men, for 3-year periods from 2007–09 to 2015–17, with confidence intervals. The data can also be viewed by selected ADF serving group and with confidence intervals on or off. The age-adjusted suicide rate for serving men was significantly lower than rates for Australian men in each 3-year period from 2007–2009 to 2014–2016. The age-adjusted suicide rate for men in the reserves was significantly lower than in Australian men in each 3-year period from 2009–2011 to 2015–2017. The age-adjusted suicide rate among ex-serving men was significantly higher than in men in the Australian population in the 3-year period 2013–2015.
Tool tip shows standardised mortality ratio (SMR; see Technical notes and Glossary for further information) and significance when the mouse is hovered over a data point.
The age-adjusted suicide rate for serving men was found to be significantly lower than rates for Australian men in each 3-year period from 2007–2009 to 2014–2016 and in 2016–2018. When compared with rates for Australian men, the age-adjusted suicide rate for serving men ranged between 63% lower (SMR=0.37) in 2012–2014 and 27% lower (SMR=0.73) in 2015–2017.
After adjusting for age, the suicide rate for men in the reserves was found to be significantly lower than in Australian men in each 3-year period from 2009–2011 to 2016–2018. When compared with rates for Australian men, the age-adjusted suicide rate among men in the reserves ranged from 32% lower (SMR=0.68) in 2007–2009 to 57% lower (SMR=0.43) in 2015–2017.
Conversely, the age-adjusted suicide rate among ex-serving men was significantly higher than in age-matched Australian men in 2013–2015 and 2015–2017. When compared with the rate for Australian men, the age-adjusted rate for ex-serving men was between 14% higher (SMR = 1.14) in 2009–2011 and 36% higher (SMR = 1.36) in 2013–2015.
For more information on Veterans and the National suicide monitoring of serving and ex-serving Australian Defence Force personnel see National suicide monitoring of serving and ex-serving Australian Defence Force personnel: 2020 update.
Serving full time: ADF personnel serving in a regular capacity in the Royal Australian Navy (Navy), Australian Army (Army) or the Royal Australian Air Force (Air Force) on or after 1 January 2001, on continuous full-time service, or participating in a gap year program.
Reserve: ADF personnel in the active or inactive reserve forces for the Navy, Army or the Air Force on or after 1 January 2001. Most personnel leaving full-time service transition to the inactive reserve forces, unless prevented by medical or other grounds.
Ex-serving: ADF personnel in the serving or reserve population on or after 1 January 2001, who were subsequently discharged.
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