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Media Releases 29 Sep 2021

Latest Report on Veteran and ADF Suicide Timely

The Returned & Services League of Australia (RSL) says the release of the latest report on the incidence of suicide within the veteran community and the Australian Defence Force provides a salutary reminder of the extent of this national tragedy.

The report, the fourth from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW), expands on earlier information and provides more complete data on the extent and seriousness of the issue. It is timely, coming as the Royal Commission into Veteran and Service Suicide commences its work.

RSL Australia President Greg Melick welcomed the release of the report and said the information would assist the Royal Commission in its deliberations.

“The sad reality is that our ex-service men and women have a higher risk of suicide than other Australians and the 1273 certified deaths by suicide among former ADF service members between 2001 and 2019 is a national tragedy.

“The AIHW report provides a blunt and sombre reminder of the scope of the challenge and the pressing need for action. Australia cannot allow this to continue.

“It reinforces what we already know that the highest risk group is younger veterans within five years of separating from the ADF.

Greg Melick said it would be difficult to identify an issue closer to the heart of the RSL or one that the organisation takes more seriously, both in terms of the truly horrific impact it has on families and the broader defence community, to say nothing of the entire nation.

“Commensurate with the central importance of this issue to the RSL and those we represent now and into the future, we will take every opportunity to use this timely and highly relevant report to support our submission to the Royal Commission.

“The Royal Commission is an opportunity to to address the serious issue of veterans’ mental health and veteran suicide and provides the prospect of securing a clear pathway for better outcomes for our veteran community in the future.

“The RSL will continue to actively work with Open Arms and other support bodies as well as with all members willing to assist their fellow veterans,” Greg Melick said.

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