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Veteran suicide prevention — DVA information, support and research

Who do I contact if I, or someone I know, needs help now?

If you need immediate emergency assistance:

For immediate counselling, advice and support:

Contact your GP or a mental health professional to discuss longer-term support options.

DVA support

Any suicide is tragic — as a community there are actions we can take to minimise the likelihood of death by suicide. 

DVA provides suicide awareness and prevention support for  current and ex-serving ADF personnel and their families who are experiencing or have been affected by the thoughts or actions of suicide. DVA’s comprehensive suicide awareness and prevention strategy is known as Operation Life.

Logo - Open Arms Veterans and families counsellingOperation Life workshops are run Australia-wide by Open Arms — Veterans & Families Counselling. These workshops equip you with the skills and confidence to identify the signs of suicide, start the conversation about suicide, and link into appropriate help. By learning these skills you may help to reduce the risk of suicide in your community.The workshops are available free to anyone in the ex-service community. You do not have to be eligible for Open Arms services to attend Operation Life workshops. To register your interest, call 1800 011 046 in business hours or visit Open Arms

The Operation Life Online website is designed to help you understand the warning signs of suicide and provides information and resources to help you keep calm and take action to stay safe, advice on how to offer help to someone else and stories from those touched by suicide. Information and support options are also available on the site if you have been affected by suicide.

The Operation Life mobile app is designed to help those at risk deal with suicidal thoughts and is recommended to be used with the support of a clinician. The app provides on-the-go access to emergency and professional support and self-help tools to help you regain control, keep calm and take action to stay safe. The app also contains web links to online resources, including information on suicide awareness, prevention training and counselling. The app is available free from the App Store or Google Play.



Support is also available 24/7 through Open Arms on 1800 011 046Open Arms provides free confidential counselling to members of the veteran and ex-service community who need support. 

Additionally, DVA can provide access to clinical services and also has the High Res website and app to support the mental health and wellbeing of serving and ex-serving ADF members and their families. 

For additional information on DVA’s and Open Arms’s range of mental health services and support go to:


The Government has released a detailed analysis on the incidence of suicide among serving and ex-serving Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel from 2001–2015.

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) study, Incidence of suicide in ex-serving ADF personnel 2001-2015, uses data from the Department of Defence Personnel Management Key System, which contains information on all people who serve or have served in the ADF from 1 January 2001, and the National Death Index (NDI). The NDI is a Commonwealth database that contains records of deaths registered in Australia since 1980. Data comes from Registrars of Births, Deaths and Marriages in each jurisdiction, the National Coronial Information System and the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

The detailed analysis builds on a summary report released in June 2017 and largely supports earlier findings that ex-serving men aged 18 to 29 are at a higher risk of suicide when compared to Australian men of the same age. When age and all other factors are controlled for, medical discharge and discharge in ranks other than commissioned officers are associated with higher suicide risk among ex-serving men.

The report can be found at AIHW. The Government will continue to maintain a record of ex-serving ADF member suicide deaths and will annually update incidence rates of suicide among serving and ex-serving ADF members as new cause of death data becomes available.

Transition and Wellbeing Research Programme

The Transition and Wellbeing Research Programme is the most comprehensive study undertaken in Australia that examines the impact of military service on the mental, physical and social health of:

  • serving and ex-serving Australian Defence Force (ADF) members including those who have been deployed in contemporary conflicts, and
  • their families.

For further information visit the Transition and Wellbeing Research Programme.

Literature Review of Suicidal Behaviour and Ideation in Military Personnel

DVA commissioned the Australian Institute for Suicide Research and Prevention at Griffith University, to conduct a literature review examining suicide among veterans in both Australia and internationally.  

The aim of this literature review is to provide a national and international comparison point for suicidal behaviour and ideation among Australian military personnel, as well identifying any emerging risk and protective factors. 

The review highlighted the limitations applying international research on suicidal behaviour in foreign serving and ex-serving personnel in the Australian context.  It also highlighted the need for continued research into suicide prevalence and risk in Australian ex-serving personnel. 

Suicidal behaviour and ideation among military personnel: Australian and international trends — literature review

Facts about suicide in Australia

Data published by the Australian Bureau of Statistics shows that suicide is the leading cause of death in people aged 15 to 44. In Australia, there were 2,864 deaths from intentional self-harm in 2014, resulting in a ranking as the 13th leading cause of all deaths. Approximately three quarters (75.4 per cent) of people who died by suicide were male, making suicide the 10th leading cause of death for males.

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