Australia defence force suicides ‘a national tragedy’

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The high rate of suicide by current and former Australian Defence Force members has been described as “a national tragedy”, after a landmark report.

A royal commission – Australia’s top form of public inquiry – interviewed hundreds of people over eight months.

It found servicemen and women are struggling with bureaucracy and a lack of support after being discharged.

The government has apologised and promised to urgently respond to the report’s recommendations.

“It’s devastating that Australia has lost more serving and former serving personnel to suicide than it has lost through operations over the last 20 years in Afghanistan and Iraq,” Veterans Minister Matt Keogh said.

There have been more than 1,200 deaths by suicide among current and former Australian Defence Force (ADF) members since 2001.

Studies have found veterans are far more likely to take their lives than the general population.

Key factors include dealing with physical and mental injuries from service, transitioning to civilian life, and interacting with understaffed and often adversarial veteran support services, the Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide found.

Senator Jacqui Lambie was among those who shared their experiences to the inquiry in private and public hearings across the country.

She told how she had written her sons farewell letters and tried to end her life after she was injured in the army and locked into a compensation battle with the government.

Agencies

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