News

Report reveals veterans’ suicide risk


Matt Woodley


29/11/2019 3:17:07 PM

Ex-servicemen have the highest suicide rates, and ex-servicewomen are more than twice as likely to take their own life as women who have never served.

Veteran suicide risk.
The rate of suicide in both serving and reserve men was 48% lower than the rate for all Australian men in 2017.

The updated statistics, collated by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW), showed 42 current and former Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel committed suicide in 2017, bringing the total up to 419 since 2001.
 
The age-adjusted rate of suicide for ex-serving women, reported for the first time, was more than two times greater than the general Australian female population – the highest amongst all ADF service groups.
 
Ex-servicemen were only 18% more likely to take their life than males in the general population, but had the highest overall rate of 27 per 100,000.
 
However, the rate of suicide in both serving and reserve men was 48% lower than the rate for all Australian men.
 
Federal Minister for Veterans and Defence Personnel Darren Chester described the deaths as ‘tragic’. He said he will discuss the issue with each state and territory, while consulting them on the Veterans’ Mental Health and Wellbeing Strategy and Action Plan.
 
‘The only acceptable number [of suicides] is zero,’ he said. ‘There are improvements being made … but I know more can be done to ensure we are supporting our veterans and their families now and into the future.’
 
The AIHW released two other reports on ex-serving ADF members related to medications dispensed and use of homelessness services in 2017–18.
 
Key findings from the reports include:

  • more than one million medications were dispensed to around 70,000 contemporary ex-serving ADF members
  • around two-thirds (64%) of all contemporary ex-serving ADF members were dispensed at least one medication
  • 20% of contemporary ex-serving ADF members and 15% of all Australians were dispensed antidepressants, adjusted for age and sex differences
  • ex-serving ADF members’ use of homelessness services was lower than the Australian population – 1.1% compared with 3.4%
  • male ex-serving ADF specialist homelessness service (SHS) clients required and used more accommodation services compared with ex-serving women
  • more than half (53%) of female ex-serving ADF SHS clients also needed domestic and family violence services. This reflects the association between the use of domestic and family violence services and the use of homelessness services found among female Australian SHS clients.



AIHW Australian Defence Force Australian Institute of Health and Welfare homelessness Mental health suicide veterans



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