Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (2021) Serving and ex-serving Australian Defence Force members who have served since 1985: suicide monitoring 2001 to 2019, AIHW, Australian Government, accessed 27 November 2022.
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. (2021). Serving and ex-serving Australian Defence Force members who have served since 1985: suicide monitoring 2001 to 2019. Retrieved from https://pp.aihw.gov.au/reports/veterans/serving-and-ex-serving-adf-suicide-monitoring-2021
Serving and ex-serving Australian Defence Force members who have served since 1985: suicide monitoring 2001 to 2019. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 29 September 2021, https://pp.aihw.gov.au/reports/veterans/serving-and-ex-serving-adf-suicide-monitoring-2021
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. Serving and ex-serving Australian Defence Force members who have served since 1985: suicide monitoring 2001 to 2019 [Internet]. Canberra: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2021 [cited 2022 Nov. 27]. Available from: https://pp.aihw.gov.au/reports/veterans/serving-and-ex-serving-adf-suicide-monitoring-2021
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) 2021, Serving and ex-serving Australian Defence Force members who have served since 1985: suicide monitoring 2001 to 2019, viewed 27 November 2022, https://pp.aihw.gov.au/reports/veterans/serving-and-ex-serving-adf-suicide-monitoring-2021
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For ex-serving members who have died by suicide, time since separation is the time between separation from the ADF1 and date of death. In this report, time since separation is presented in five groups (ranging from less than 1 year to more than 20 years).
Overall, around half of the ex-serving population (49.5% of males and 50.8% of females) who served since 1985, separated from the ADF 20 or more years ago, followed by just under one quarter (23.7% of males and 24% of females) between 10 and 20 years ago. The proportion of the population who separated between 1 and 5 years ago is 13.2% of males, and 11.7% of females. Around 2.5% of males and 2.6% of females separated less than 1 year ago.
Number of years since separation(a)
Suicide rate per 100,000 population per year
Suicide rate per 100,000 population per year
20 or more(b)
Source: AIHW analysis of linked Defence historical personnel data–PMKeyS–NDI data 1985–2019.
The average time since separation was nearly 19 years and was the same for males and females. The maximum length of time since separation that could be observed in this study was 34 years.
The rates of suicide were similar regardless of time since separation for both ex-serving males and females.
Suicide rates over time for ex-serving males by time since separation are presented in the interactive graph below. Note due to small numbers of suicide deaths in less than one year since separation category, data are aggregated and presented for less than five years since separation.
Due to the small number of suicide deaths among ex-serving females, suicide rates over time are not reported.
Although there has been some small variation in the suicide rates for individual groups over time, these variations were not significant.
The interactive graph below presents the suicide rates for ex-serving males in each of the time since separation groups , for all 3-year periods from 2002-2004 to 2017-2019.
Note: The confidence intervals in this figure can be used to determine the significance of differences between the suicide rates calculated for the ex-serving within a given 3-year period. However, they cannot be used to determine the significance of differences between rates calculated for the ex-serving population for overlapping 3-year time periods (for example 2002–2004 and 2003–2005).
Data underlying this graph are available in Supplementary table S6.6 See Data for a link to the tables.
Please note, data for more recent years are subject to change; see Technical notes for further detail.
Note that the separation point used in this study reflects full separation from the ADF – that is, when a member is no longer in permanent or reserve service. For example, a member who transitions from full time service to the inactive reserves is counted as permanent for the purpose of length of service calculations until he or she separates from the reserves.
If you need help or support, please contact:
Open Arms - Veterans and Families Counselling 1800 011 046
Open Arms Suicide Intervention page
Defence All-hours Support Line (ASL) 1800 628 036
Defence Member and Family Helpline 1800 624 608
Defence Chaplaincy Support 1300 333 362
ADF Mental Health Services
Lifeline 13 11 14
Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467
Beyond Blue Support Service 1300 22 4636
For information on support provided by DVA, see:
Some readers may find parts of this content confronting or distressing.
Please carefully consider your needs when reading the following information about suicide. This report contains information on numbers and rates of death by suicide for serving and ex-serving members of the ADF. This report may be distressing to some readers.
If this material raises concerns for you, support is available. Please contact Lifeline on 13 11 14, or Defence All-hours Support Line on 1800 628 036, or Open Arms - Veterans and Families Counselling, available free of charge, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 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 ADF member and veteran suicide each year in Australia.
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.
We'd love to know any feedback that you have about the AIHW website, its contents or reports.
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