Friday, 22 August 2008

Govt launches veterans suicide study

The government has launched a study to assess how many veterans commit suicide and why.

Veterans Affairs Minister Alan Griffin said the study would examine a number of specific cases of suicide by ex-service members in recent years to help identify those members who may be at risk of self harm.

"We know that war service can have both a physical and mental impact on the lives of service personnel. Physical impairment can be obvious, psychological injury is less so," he said in a statement.

"This government is determined to support veterans and ex-service personnel who may suffer psychologically as a result of their service. However to do so we need a better understanding of the incidence and characteristics of suicide amongst this community."

Mr Griffin said the study would be run by epidemiologist and public health specialist Associate Professor David Dunt who is also conducting the recently announced review of mental health services in the Australian Defence [Military-War] Force.

Mr Griffin said his appointment to conduct the suicide study would deliver a more coordinated response to mental health for serving and ex-service personnel.

He is expected to report by the end of the year.

Mr Griffin said the suicide study would be conducted independently of the Department of Veterans Affairs and had been developed in consultation with the National Veterans' Mental Health and Wellbeing Forum.

"We are seeking to better identify those at risk, common contributing factors in recent cases, the incidence of suicide in the ex-service community and whether there is more that government agencies and the medical and allied-health professions can do to support veterans under stress," he said.

Submissions have been sought from members of the veteran and ex-service community. Closing date is October 5.

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