09 October 2020


Having made a somewhat acerbic submission to the Senate Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Committee regarding the two National Commissioner for Defence & Veteran Suicide Prevention Bills I was interested to see today's release by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) of its third annual update of information around suicide among serving, reserve and contemporary ex-serving Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel. 

The report is stated as serving to 'inform improvements in suicide prevention and other services for serving and ex-serving ADF personnel and their families', reflecting ongoing failure at the Department of Veterans' Affairs noted by the Productivity Commission last year and a succession of parliamentary committees. 

It indicates that men who were currently serving full-time or in the reserve were considerably less likely to die by suicide than Australian men generally. That was not the case for ex-serving men, who were 21% more likely to die by suicide than their counterparts in the general community after adjusting for age. Although e the rate of suicide for ex-serving women is lower than that for ex-serving men, ex-serving women were more than twice as likely to die by suicide than other Australian women after adjusting for age. Men who were discharged from the ADF for medical reasons were more likely to die by suicide than those discharged for voluntary reasons. For ex-serving men, the rate of suicide was 28 per 100,000, which was higher than the rates for serving (11 per 100,000) and reserve men (12 per 100,000), with 465 suicide deaths among serving, reserve and contemporary) ex-serving ADF personnel between 2001 and 2018.