Urgent action needed to tackle military veteran crisis

The chair of the royal commission into veteran suicides has called for urgent action as new figures outline the shocking number of former military personnel taking their own lives.

There were at least 1677 deaths by suicide between 1997 and 2021 among serving personnel, veterans and reservists, data released by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare on Tuesday revealed 

But the report only records suicides for people who served from July 1985. 

It found veteran women are twice as likely to die by suicide than the general female Australian population, whether they served permanently or in the reserves.

Men who joined the permanent forces are 42 per cent more likely to suicide than the rest of the nation, but for people who served exclusively in the reserves, they are not more likely to die by suicide.

Of the 1677 recorded suicide deaths, 1542 were men and 135 were women.

Commissioner Nick Kaldas responded by called for urgent action on the tragic situation. 

"This report reinforces that we are dealing with a national crisis," he said.

“I urge the government and its agencies to work with us to achieve better outcomes for serving and ex-serving ADF members, and their families.”

Meanwhile, Veterans' Affairs Minister Matt Keogh announced almost $17 million in funding for veteran and family services.

"The royal commission into defence and veteran suicide has made it clear there is no time to waste in improving services and supports to the veteran community," he said.

"This program supports larger projects that can be implemented quickly to deliver the services that veterans and families need, in the areas they need it most."

The royal commission will hold a final public hearing in Sydney in March, where senior defence leaders are expected to give evidence.

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