Australian Institute of Health and Welfare report on Defence and veteran suicide released

22 Nov 2023

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) published the Serving and ex-serving Australian Defence Force members who have served since 1985 suicide monitoring: 1997 to 2021 report.

Commissioned by DVA, the AIHW has delivered this report on the incidence of suicide among current and ex-serving ADF personnel to improve our understanding of this complex issue. This is the sixth yearly update to this study.

The death by suicide of any veteran or Defence member is a tragedy deeply felt by the veteran community and all Australians.

Sadly, between 1997 and 2021, there were 1,677 certified deaths by suicide among members with ADF service since 1 January 1985.  Suicide rates among different cohorts are broadly consistent with previous years’ reporting.

We acknowledge that these statistics represent human lives – current and ex-serving ADF personnel who have died by suicide and families, friends and loved ones who are impacted by these deaths.

We will continue to focus on providing critical services to all veterans who need support.

The important ongoing work of the Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide remains critical to deeper understanding and addressing the unacceptable rates of deaths by suicide in our Defence and veteran community.

Help is available.  There are a range of services and supports available to those who need it. All current and former serving members of the ADF who have completed one day of full-time service (and some reservists) are eligible for fully-funded mental health treatment through the Non-Liability Health Care program. Proof that your condition is related to military service isn’t required to access treatment.

Veterans can access health treatment for 20 of the most commonly claimed physical conditions while their health claim is being considered, and immediate financial assistance is available to eligible veterans submitting a mental health claim through The Veteran Payment.

If you’re a veteran or their immediate family member or know someone in the veteran community struggling with their mental health, please encourage them to reach out for support.

  • Defence personnel can contact their local health centre, the All Hours Support Line on 1800 628 036 or the Defence Member and Family Helpline on 1800 624 608.
  • Open Arms – Veterans & Families Counselling Service provides free and confidential mental health support available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year for veterans and their immediate families on 1800 011 046.

The report can be accessed by visiting the AIHW website.