Australian govt launches probe into veteran suicide rates

Source:AFP Published: 2020/2/5 19:23:43

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison Photo: IC

Australia is to hold a wide-ranging inquiry into suicides among military veterans and will appoint a permanent commissioner to try to curb the death rate, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Wednesday.

Australia, which has more than 3,000 troops deployed around the world, joins the US, Britain and Canada in exploring ways to prevent suicide rates among serving and former military personnel.

Some 419 Australian defense personnel have died from suicide since 2001, which is 18 percent higher than in non-­military Australians, according to a report last year.

Morrison has been under pressure to tackle the issue amid a high-profile campaign by Julie-Ann Finney, whose son David, a former naval petty officer, committed suicide last year.

"Too many young Australians have taken their own lives, and we need concerted actions in all of these areas to ensure that we're doing everything we possibly can to prevent this," Morrison told reporters.

A permanent commissioner will head the inquiry and will be able to investigate individual cases of suspected and attempted suicide, as well as make recommendations to support suicide prevention and improve mental health and wellbeing.

In 2018, US President Donald Trump signed an executive order directing government departments to try to prevent suicide among military veterans by treating mental health problems before they become more serious.

According to the US Department of Veterans Affairs, 6,139 US veterans died by suicide in 2017, a rate 1.5 times higher than for non-veteran adults. 


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