Veteran suicide too high

Veteran suicide too high

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Member for Burt Matt Keogh pays his respects. Photograph – Richard Polden.

The federal government has announced a Royal Commission into veteran suicides that has been welcomed by the Armadale veteran community, who also feel it was too late for some.

On April 19, the Prime Minister announced the Government will recommend to the Governor-General that a Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide be established.

The commission is designed to assess the systemic issues and common themes and past deaths by suicide of ADF members and veterans as well as the experience of those who may continue to be at risk of suicide.

Lynda Zapelli served in the navy before she was discharged due to mental health amongst other injuries.

Ms Zapelli suffered suicidal thoughts and extreme agoraphobia as a result of PTSD.

“I used to hide in cupboards of my house when helicopters would fly over,” she said.

“Each person deals with it differently, each veteran deals with it differently.

“That was my way at the time, that I used to deal with it when I was triggered and not okay.”

Ms Zapelli does the veteran suicide intervention in Armadale and is a strong advocate for veterans in the community.

Whilst she feels it’s a bit late for some, Ms Zapelli is grateful veteran suicide is being brought to light.

“We welcome the commission and we are grateful for the opportunity it presents.”

Federal Member for Burt Matt Keogh said it is about time the Royal Commission into veteran suicide was established.

“Veterans, their families and Labor have been calling for this since 2019,” he said.

“Since the beginning of the war in Afghanistan, we have lost more veterans to suicide than soldiers killed in combat.

“I spoke in support of this in Federal Parliament a few weeks ago – the message is loud and clear: with a veteran suicide rate nearly double the general population, we need to get to the bottom of what’s behind these tragic deaths.

“The Government now needs to consult widely and wisely on timelines and Terms of Reference and Labor will support this consultation.”