The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare has confirmed that former servicemen have higher rates of suicide than Australian men overall in a new report released this afternoon.

The report shows 292 former or serving defence force personnel took their own lives in the period 2001-2014 — 272 men and 20 women. The great majority were former servicemen and women — 142 out of the 292.

AIHW compared the suicide rate of servicemen and ex-servicemen (the numbers of women involved are too small for a useful comparison) to the overall population, adjusted for age to ensure a meaningful comparison. Men currently in uniform have lower suicide rates than men overall: for full-time Australian Defence Force personnel, the suicide rate was only 53% of that of the overall male population; for reservists, 46% of the overall rate.

However, the rate for former servicemen was 13% higher than that of the overall population. Younger ex-servicemen, in particular, have a very high rate — almost twice as high as that of the overall population, adjusted for age.


Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey