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National suicide monitoring of serving and ex-serving Australian Defence Force personnel: 2020 update

Veterans Australian Defence Force Defence force personnel Suicide Australia

The information in this report is based on fact of death information from the National Death Index (NDI), cause of death information from the National Mortality Database (NMD) and Defence Suicide Database (DSD), as well as information on personnel in the three ADF service status groups from Department of Defence personnel systems.

This report is the third annual update to the ongoing monitoring of suicides in serving and ex-serving ADF personnel. Research relating to veterans undertaken by the AIHW can be accessed on the AIHW website. A detailed report, Incidence of suicide in serving and ex-serving Australian Defence Force personnel: detailed analysis 2001-2015, was released in January 2018. This report examined the incidence of suicide among serving and ex-serving personnel and further identified characteristics that may be associated with suicide risk. The current report contains information on suicide rates in ex-serving males analysed by service (Army, Navy or Air Force) and by discharge reason (voluntary, medical or other involuntary) for the first time.

Key findings:

  • In the latest 3-year period analysed (2016-2018) the age-adjusted rate of suicide in serving males was 37% lower than in Australian males.
  • Among reserve males it was 47% lower than in Australian males.
  • Between 2007 and 2018 the rate of suicide in ex-serving males who discharged on medical grounds was higher than in Australian males, while among those who discharged voluntarily it was similar.
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