A primer for ADF commanders to assist them to own the challenge of military suicide in the ranks as a command and leadership issue.
This paper seeks to provide a primer for Australian Defence Force commanders to assist them to own the challenge of military suicide in the ranks as first and foremost a command and leadership issue. It argues that it is impossible to understand a suicidal soldier unless the subject of suicide is itself broadly understood by the profession of arms. In order to frame the problem of suicide ideation realistically, the armed services must examine the act of voluntary death in a comprehensive and interdisciplinary manner. Suicide is not a single-factor phenomenon nor is it purely medical in character. Rather, it is a complex phenomenon embracing historical, sociological, psychological, philosophical and cultural factors. Accordingly, commanders need a holistic awareness of how interaction may occur in the aetiology of suicide ideation in a military setting. To be most effective, future suicide education inside the ADF needs to be carefully combined with a strong focus on broader resilience and life-skills programs. The latter are likely to work best in the form of an interdisciplinary ‘pillared approach’ which can be spread across the entire joint organisation.
The following documents are companion pieces to Understanding Suicide: a primer for Australian Defence Force Commanders: