Are you finding yourself thinking about suicide? Having these thoughts can be a response to feeling like your life is out of your control, that it will never get better. Your thoughts might involve wishing you were dead, and you may have thought about how you would end your life. You might also think that your family, mates and the ADF would be better off without you.

Although you may feel painfully alone right now, it is important for you to know that other people have felt like ending their lives too. Other people thinking about suicide might even have had similar thoughts to your own. There are many reasons why people may consider suicide. This is often triggered by a combination of significant life changes or loss, including:

  • loss and grief (including the suicide of someone close to you)
  • being abused or bullied (sexual, physical, and/or emotional)
  • worries about legal or disciplinary problems
  • significant relationship and family stresses (including break-up)
  • financial insecurity
  • feeling like no one cares or understands.

You may feel like your ability to cope with the situations and experiences you are facing is being overwhelmed. You may find that you can't sleep, eat, or participate in activities you used to enjoy. Using alcohol or other drugs can contribute to an increase in your feelings of hopelessness and lead to impulsive actions.

While this is a painful experience, it is important to know that it is temporary and that you can get past it.

Suicide fact sheet (PDF, 729.04 KB)

Getting help

By reading this, it is likely that you're not 100% sure whether you do want to end your life, or you do not know how to cope with the emotional pain you are experiencing. Most people who think about suicide can identify a part of them that wants to live and feel better. The most important thing to remember is that help is available. Tell someone now. Talk to someone you trust - you don't have to go through this alone. Tell them how you feel and what you are thinking.

  • Your chain of command is a primary resource that can provide advice, referral and support. Other than in an emergency, you can also contact your local Chaplain or the Duty Officer/Officer of the Day for immediate assistance and referrals.
  • If you are thinking about suicide you need to seek help from a mental health professional. This may be a difficult step to take, but is an important part of helping you with your distress. Contact details for accessing services and support can be found on the Garrison Health Centres page. In an emergency situation, contact 000.
  • A list of 24/7 telephone counselling and support services can be found on the Helplines page.
  • There are also National Mental Health Services you can access via the websites under Further Information (below).

ADF Suicide Prevention Program

The Suicide Prevention Program is driven by the assumption that suicide is preventable, and that prevention and early intervention are critical to positive mental health and wellbeing outcomes for all people. 

Each step in the program presents an ongoing opportunity to reduce stigma, promote understanding of suicide behaviour and risk factors, and increase protective factors. The four steps of the program are:

  1. Suicide Prevention Awareness
  2. Suicide Prevention Alertness
  3. Suicide Prevention Skills Training
  4. Mental Health Risk Assessment Training (MHRAT) for Mental Health Professionals

Suicide in the ADF

From the findings of the 2010 ADF Mental Health Prevalence and Well-being Study, it is estimated that up to 4% of ADF members may experience some form of suicidality within a 12 month period, which includes thinking about, planning or attempting suicide. In 2010, 1.1% of ADF members reported having made a suicide plan and 0.4% had attempted suicide within the 12 months prior to surveying. Although women are more likely to have thoughts about attempting suicide, there is no difference between ADF men and women in the number of plans and attempts.

Risk factors for suicide thoughts and plans include having a mood or anxiety disorder, and/or prior trauma exposure, particularly interpersonal violence. The risk of suicide is no different for those who have and have not deployed.

Helping someone at risk

If you know that someone is considering suicide you should not leave them alone until you can link them in with either your chain of command or an ADF mental health professional. The most useful thing you can do is to encourage the suicidal person to get professional help. Go with the person if necessary to ensure that appropriate professional help is received. People that support someone who is suicidal can also access these services to gain support.