Defence loses more to suicide than to enemy

MORE Australian Defence Force employees have died by suicide over the past decade than have died on the front line.

According to the ADF, 61 members have died by suicide since 2003, while there were 37 deaths of members on the front line in Afghanistan in the same period.

Casino combat engineer, 22-year-old army sapper David Wood who was being treated for depression after two tours of Afghanistan, was believed to be the latest casualty after police discovered his body on Saturday.

An ADF spokesperson said 89 ADF members had died by suicide since 2000, 56 of whom had not been deployed offshore.

The spokesperson said when an ADF member was identified as being at risk of suicide, health professionals provided crisis intervention and case management in accordance with World Health Organisation guidelines.

David Wood
David Wood

In response to the escalating number of deaths by suicide, last year the ADF revised its Suicide Prevention Program. The spokesperson said improvements to the SPP included revising ADF policy guidance on managing self-harm and suicide, the provision of risk assessment training for health professionals and updating mandatory awareness training and presentation packages.

"Other suicide prevention measures that have been adopted by the ADF include psychological resilience or BattleSMART training in recruit training establishments," the spokesperson said.

"To date, 143 Defence mental health professionals have undertaken Suicide Risk Assessment training and 64 further trained to deliver the program regionally."

ADF personnel SPP training ranges from a mandatory annual 30 minute suicide awareness presentation to the two day Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training program.

All Defence members requiring mental health support can phone the national 24 hour service 1800 I'M SICK (1800 467 425).

Or, phoning 1800 628 036 will connect ADF members to a 24-hour counselling service.


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