Veterans who were discharged from the army for medical reasons are dying by suicide at a much higher rate than everyday Australians, a new report has found.
The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare report, released today, found suicide rates were markedly lower than Australian averages amongst serving defence force personnel, but ex-service men and women both had increased rates.
AIHW spokesperson Louise Gates said the report would inform improvements in suicide prevention services for current and former defence force members.
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"The report shows that men who were currently serving full-time or in the reserve were considerably less likely to die by suicide than Australian men generally," Ms Gates said.
"However, this was not the case for ex-serving men, who were 21 per cent more likely to die by suicide than their counterparts in the general community after adjusting for age."
The report also found that the rate of suicide amongst ex-service women was more than double the rate amongst average Australian females.
Tasmania has one of the largest veteran population's as a proportion of total population in Australia, but has no dedicated in patient mental health service for veterans.
A feasibility study, funded by the state and federal governments, is examining whether Tasmania would be suited to a veteran wellbeing centre.
The centre would provide mental and physical health services, employment assistance, social connection and advocacy.
The study comes after a report, commissioned by RSL Tasmania and funded by the state government, found 55 per cent of veterans in Tasmania had experienced mental health problems in their lifetimes.
That report, released earlier this year, also found 11 per cent of female veterans and 28 per cent of male veterans in Tasmania suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Tasmanian Veteran Affairs Minister Guy Barnett said the results of the RSL report were concerning.
He said improving access to mental health support for Tasmanian veterans was a priority.
"We want to do everything we can to support our veterans and their families," Mr Barnett said.
Mr Barnett said the government expect to have the final results of the study by early 2021.
Veterans, their families, first responders, veterans groups and other interested parties are all eligible to participate in the study.
- If you or someone you know has been affected by the issues raised in the article support is available. Open Arms - veterans and families counselling: 1800 011 046, Lifeline: 13 11 14
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