This is the AIHW’s fourth annual report on suicide among permanent, reserve and ex-serving ADF members. Previous editions included members with at least one day of ADF service since 1 January 2001. The current report expands on this earlier work by including members with at least one day of ADF service since 1 January 1985, following extensive investigation and validation of historical data sources. This more than doubles the population under consideration; 149,000 ex-serving ADF members in addition to the 125,000 ex-serving ADF member population in previous reports.
The larger study population enables more detailed analysis, providing greater insight into the risk and protective factors for suicide within the permanent, reserve and ex-serving populations.
Because the ex-serving population included in this report is more than double that of the previous report the numbers of suicides reported in this report are larger than previously, however the general patterns including rates of suicide and comparisons with the general Australian population remain similar to previous studies.
This report includes numbers of suicide deaths between 1 January 2001 and 31 December 2019 and rates of suicide from 1 January 2002 to 31 December 2019. Further information on veteran population scope can be found in the Technical notes.
Permanent and reserve males have a lower risk of suicide
Permanent and reserve males are about half as likely to die by suicide as Australian males (51% and 48% lower respectively).
Ex-serving males and females have a higher risk of suicide
Overall, ex-serving ADF members are at a higher risk of suicide than other Australians, with males 24% more likely to die by suicide, and females 102% more likely (or about twice as likely). However, some subgroups of the ex-serving ADF members have different rates of suicide.
Members who separate voluntarily have lower rates of suicide
The suicide rate for ex-serving males who separate voluntarily is around one third of the rate of those who separate for involuntary medical reasons (73.1 compared with 22.2 per 100,000 population per year).
Younger age groups are at greater risk of suicide
Ex-serving males aged under 50 were more likely to die by suicide than those aged over 50 years (35.2 compared with 18.9 per 100,000 population per year).
Those who separate as commissioned officers have lower rates of suicide
The suicide rate for ex-serving males who separated as commissioned officers is about half the rate of those who separated at any other rank (15.5 compared with 31.8 per 100,000 population per year).
Those with a longer length of service have lower rates of suicide
The suicide rate for males who served for more than 20 years was about one third of the rate of those who served for less than a year (15.4 compared with 46.4 per 100,000 population per year).
Time since separation is not a key factor
Regardless of the length of time since separation, the rate of suicide for ex-serving males is similar.
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