The fourth annual report on suicide among permanent, reserve and ex-serving members of the Australian Defence Force has been released by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) – reporting a staggering 1273 suicides among veterans between 2001 and 2019.
The report, Serving and ex-serving Australian Defence Force members who have served since 1985: suicide monitoring 2001 to 2019, is part of an ongoing body of work commissioned by the Department of Veterans’ Affairs.
AIHW spokesperson Louise Gates said previous reports included information about members with at least one day of service in the ADF since 1 January 2001, but this year’s report was expanded to included those who served after 1 January 1985 and died by suicide between 1 January 2001 and 31 December 2019.
“The expansion to this larger population provides results that are more representative of the ex-serving ADF population.” Ms Gates said.
“The larger study population allows for more detailed analysis of smaller subgroups to further inform suicide prevention policy and programs.”
She said AIHW’s work was used to inform improvements in mental health and suicide awareness and prevention for permanent, reserve and ex-serving ADF members and their families.
The report found that the statistical rates of suicide by comparison with the general Australian population remained similar to those previously reported, but because of the larger study population, there are a larger number of individual suicides than in previous reports.
For example, after adjusting for age differences, males serving in the permanent ADF and males in the reserves were less likely to die by suicide than the general Australian population, but ex-serving males and females were more likely to die by suicide than the general Australian population.
Compared with the Australian population, suicide rates (after adjusting for age) between 2002 and 2019 were: 51% lower for male permanent ADF members; 48% lower for reserve males; 24% higher for ex-serving males; and, 102% higher for ex-serving females.
Ms. Gates said that between 2001 and 2019 there were 1273 certified deaths by suicide among members with ADF service since 1 January 1985.
Other notable figures…
- The suicide rate for ex-serving males who served for more than 20 years was about one third of the rate of those who served for less than one year – or 15.4 compared with 46.4 per 100,000 population per year.
- The suicide rate for ex-serving males who left the ADF voluntarily was around one third of the rate of those who left for involuntary medical reasons – 22.2 compared with 73.1 per 100,000 population per year.
- The suicide rate for ex-serving males aged over 50 years was lower than for those aged under 50 years – 18.9 compared with 35.2 per 100,000 population per year.
- The suicide rate for ex-serving males who separated as commissioned officers was about half the rate of those who separated at any other rank – 15.5 compared with 31.8 per 100,000 population per year.
See Minister for Defence Veterans’ Affairs and Minister for Defence Personnel Andrew Gee’s reaction to the report here
If you, or someone you know, need support, you can contact:
- Lifeline Australia – 13 11 14
- Suicide Call Back Service – 1300 659 467
- Open Arms (current and ex-serving ADF personnel and their families are able to seek this free and confidential support) – 1800 011 046
- ADF Mental Health All-hours Support Line (for current serving ADF personnel and their families) – 1800 628 036.
- Safe Zone Support (for current and ex-serving ADF personnel and their families) – 1800 142 072. When you call Safe Zone Support, you do not need to identify yourself if you do not want to.