The Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide is a welcome announcement, and one that the defence community has been seeking for a very long time. But it will not resolve the issue of veteran suicide.
A royal commission takes on average three years to complete, and though it might outline a range of recommendations, most social reforms take five years or more to start showing a measurable change based on data and research.
With one veteran on average dying by suicide every two weeks, we need more funding directed to prevention programs right now.
The rationale for undertaking a royal commission is to get to the bottom of an issue. But the issues that relate to veterans’ suicides and ideation are well known to the psychological community.
The reality of defence training is that they “condition” their members upon entry to the service, but they do not “de-condition” them upon retirement. The earlier a member is discharged, the more likely they are to take their own life (under the age of 30). Data already shows us where to focus our energy to prevent the despair that leads to suicidal ideation – but we don’t have the salience to commit funding to the issue until after it becomes a problem.
Read the full article in The Canberra Times here.