Australia to probe growing number of military suicides

Sydney, Australia, Apr 19 (EFE).- Australia Monday said it would investigate the “unacceptably high” rate of suicide among soldiers and war veterans deployed in Afghanistan since 2001.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said a Royal Commission would probe such incidents.

“I hope it will be a healing process. I hope it will be a process by which veterans and families can find some comfort,” Morrison told reporters in Canberra.

There have been 465 suicides among Australian Defense Forces members and veterans between 2001 and 2018, official data released in October last year said.

Australia sent its soldiers to Afghanistan in 2001.

The number of suicides, which contrasts with the 41 soldiers killed in the Afghan conflict, has increased over time.

Nine soldiers took their lives between October and November alone, and at least 13 more have committed suicide in 2021 so far, news portal news.com.au reported.

Morrison said the probe commission, created after years of pressure, especially from the families of the deceased who collected 400,000 signatures to support their cause, will investigate the suicides.

The commission, which could take up to two years to prepare its final report, will also examine all aspects of service in the armed forces, including those that continue to be at risk of suicide.

Julie-Ann Finney, who led the campaign for the creation of the Royal Commission after the suicide of her son, welcomed the announcement.

“Finally, the voices of veterans will be heard. Finally, families can stand up and share their stories,” she said.

The announcement comes after Morrison announced last week the withdrawal of the 80 Australian soldiers from Afghanistan before September.

Australia had sent the largest contingent of troops out of NATO and deployed more than 39,000 troops to Afghanistan since 2001.

In November, Australia said it would seek to prosecute soldiers suspected of committing war crimes starting in 2005, when it deployed 150 special forces soldiers and strengthened its military presence in Afghanistan, having served only in a logistical capacity until then. EFE


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