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Key Findings – 2023 Annual SuicideMonitoring Report


On 21 November 2023, the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) released the Serving and ex-serving Australian Defence Force members who have served since 1985: suicide monitoring 1997 to 2021 (2023 Report). This is the sixth annual suicide monitoring report published under the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) and AIHW Strategic Partnership.


The 2023 Report expands the monitoring period for analysis by one year (2021). It also includes a new chapter on DVA client status and interactions with DVA from 2002-2021 for Australian Defence Force (ADF) members who died by suicide.


The 2023 Report is available at Serving and ex-serving Australian Defence Force members who have served since 1985: suicide monitoring 1997 to 2021, About - Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (aihw.gov.au).


Key messages

Overall, the suicide rate for current and ex-serving ADF members is consistent with previous reports. It is important to remember that the ex-serving population increases each year. As such, the increase in ex-serving suicides across the years 1997 to 2021 is not indicative of any increase in suicide rate.

  • Between 1997 and 2021, there were 1,677 certified deaths by suicide among ADF members with at least one day of service since 1 January 1985.

  • Of the 1,677 deaths, 1,395 (83 per cent) occurred among ex-serving members, 162 (10 per cent) among current serving permanent members and 120 (7 per cent) among current reserves.

  • Current-serving permanent and reserve males had a lower rate of suicide than the general Australian population; 49 per cent and 45 per cent, respectively.

  • The suicide rate for ex-serving males who separated voluntarily is similar to the Australian general population however the rate for males who separated for involuntary medical reasons was 54 per cent higher than the general population.

  •  Ex-serving males are on average 26% more likely to die by suicide than Australian males. The suicide rate for ex-serving males that separated for involuntary medical reasons was three times higher than those who separated voluntarily.

  •  Ex-serving males under 50 were more likely to die by suicide than those aged over 50 years (36.8 and 19.8 per 100,000 population per year respectively).

  •  The overall suicide rate for ex-serving females is significantly lower than it is for ex-serving males. 

  • Ex-servings females were 107 per cent (2.07 times) more likely to die by suicide than the general Australian population.



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