MP in call to action over Defence suicides
HERBERT MP Cathy O'Toole says all levels of government need to do more to stop the "national disgrace" of Defence-related suicide after the quiet release of a new report.
The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare on Friday released its analysis of suicide among serving and ex-serving Australian Defence Force personnel in 2001-15, which identified characteristics that may be associated with suicide risk. It is the third part of the AIHW authoritative study, research commissioned by the Department of Veterans' Affairs.
New Veterans' Affairs Minister Michael McCormack is yet to make a public statement about the report's release.
"I think if you look at the fundamentals of the report, it tells a story and to why its public release was so quiet," Ms O'Toole said.
"It really is a national disgrace to see that we are not doing enough for veterans and their families in terms of mental health and suicide prevention."
The scope of the study covered all personnel with at least one day of ADF service from January 1, 2001 to April 10, 2016.
It identified a total of 325 certified suicide deaths between 2001 and 2015.
This total comprised 90 suicide deaths in the population serving full time, 69 in the reserve population and 166 in the ex-serving population. Men accounted for 93 per cent of suicides (303) and 84 per cent of the ADF populations examined. Women accounted for 22 suicides (7 per cent), including 11 ex-serving women.
The largest number of suicides were in serving, reserve and ex-serving personnel aged 18-29 (132, 41 per cent).
There were 92 suicides (28 per cent) in serving, reserve and ex-serving personnel aged 30-39 and 101 suicides in those aged 40-69 (31 per cent).
Ms O'Toole said more needed to be done for ADF personnel transitioning out of the military into civilian life.
She said the work of the Townsville-based ex-ADF personnel and families suicide project, Operation Compass, and the proposal for veterans hub The Oasis were crucial.
"Clearly, one life lost is one too many," she said.
An unofficial ADF-related suicide register, managed by The Warriors Return, recorded 85 deaths last year, 48 of whom they believe were clients of DVA.
If you or someone you know needs help, contact Veterans and Veterans Families Counselling Service on 1800 011 046, Lifeline on 13 11 14, or Beyondblue Support Service on 1300 224 636.