AIHW suicide monitoring 2001-2019 report: Serving and ex-serving ADF members

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare report, Serving and ex-serving Australian Defence Force members who have served since 1985: suicide monitoring 2001 to 2019 (released, Wednesday 29 September 2021), is the fourth annual update on suicides among permanent, reserve and ex-serving Australian Defence Force (ADF) members and the first to include the population of ADF members who served in the ADF between 1985 and 2019 by using data from historical ADF personnel systems.

About the report

  • In 2014, the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) and the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) established a partnership to build a comprehensive profile of the health and welfare of Australia’s veteran population.
  • This report includes numbers of suicide deaths between 1 January 2001 and 31 December 2019 and rates of suicide from 1 January 2002 to 31 December 2019.
  • As of 31 December 2019, almost 373,500 Australians had served at least one day in the ADF between 1 January 1985 and 31 December 2019. Of these, just over 358,000 were still alive, of which 59,000 were permanent, 38,700 reserve and nearly 261,000 ex-serving.
AIHW analysis of linked Defence Historical Personnel data 1985-2019; Defence population snapshots, 2002-2019.
AIHW analysis of linked Defence Historical Personnel data 1985-2019; Defence population snapshots, 2002-2019.

Notes on measuring death by suicide information are presented in three ways in this report.

  • Actual numbers of suicides are presented to indicate the total number.
  • Suicide rates are reported to compare between groups within the permanent, reserve and ex-serving population to take into account the size of the underlying population.
  • Age-adjusted suicide rates or Standardised Mortality Ratios (SMRs) are used to compare rates of suicide between groups with different age structures, such as comparing the permanent, reserve and ex-serving populations with the general Australian population.