Massive Suicide Rate for Vietnam Veterans’ Children

Media Release - 7 August 2000

Today, the Minister of Veterans Affairs, the Hon Bruce Scott released the long-awaited report into the incidence of suicide in children of Vietnam Veterans. The report confirms that children of Vietnam veterans have three times the suicide rate of the general community.

The government responded in the May 2000 Budget after it was established in an earlier report released in December 1999 that rates of death by accident and suicide in children of Vietnam veterans were significantly elevated when compared with other Australians. The response included a 32.3 million dollar package over four years to expand existing programs and to provide additional support services mainly through the Vietnam Veterans Counselling Service.

The National President of the Vietnam Veterans Association of Australia, Mr Brian McKenzie said today, that veterans and their families should fully utilise those support services and programs available through the Vietnam Veterans Counselling Service and the Department of Veterans' Affairs.

'We were pleased with the budget response but unfortunately the legislation to implement those support services for children is now bogged down in Federal Parliament because it accompanied other legislation that has been referred to the Senate Foreign Affairs Defence and Trade Committee'.

Our community is ready and willing to work with the government in a partnership arrangement to assist our kids.” Mr McKenzie said.

A comparison between successive birth cohorts by age at death indicates that the high numbers of suicides would continue for a number of years if the pattern of previous cohorts were followed. This is because almost all of the veterans' children are presently passing through ages at high risk of suicide.

Mr McKenzie said that it is critical that the Legislation to implement these services and programs is passed as a matter of urgency. "It is simply too important to be delayed.”


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