Serving members of the Australian Defence Forces (ADF) are much less likely to commit suicide or self-harm than the broader population.
But once they leave it’s a different story, according to a new report by the National Mental Health Commission.
The review was set up to look at whether suicide and self-harm prevention services were adequate for current and former members of the defence forces.
It found that the vast majority of people who accessed the services we’re happy – between 80 and 90 per cent.
So the services are there; it’s accessing them that’s causing issues. And it’s worse for young people, who face unique difficulties in transitioning back into civilian life.
Serving members of the ADF are half as likely as the broader population to commit suicide.
People who leave the defence forces before turning 30 are 13 per cent more likely to commit suicide than the broader population, the report found.
Since 2000 there have been 986 hospitalisations for intentional self-harm across all age groups, the report said.
Dr Peggy Brown, who runs the National Mental Health Commission, said the ADF offers members protection when they’re serving but that support disappears once they’re back in civilian life and the transition can make people feel isolated.