August 28, 2023 3 min read

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Study Reveals Link Between Gambling and Suicide among Australian Veterans

A trio of researchers, Sean Cowlishaw, Olivia Metcalf, and Nicole Sadler, have delved into the alarming relationship between veterans, gambling problems, and the potential for self-harm

In Australia, the intersection of post-military life challenges and lenient gambling regulations has created a troubling scenario for veterans, escalating concerns over suicide risk

Globally, suicide remains a daunting public health issue, with intentional self-harm accounting for a significant portion of premature deaths. This is particularly pronounced among former members of the Australian Defence Force (ADF), where studies show that around 83% of certified suicide deaths involve ex-serving personnel as reported by InSightPlus. In comparison with the general population, the suicide rate is 27% higher among male ex-serving personnel and a staggering 107% higher among women who have served.

To understand the factors contributing to this disturbing trend, the researchers relied on the Transition and Wellbeing Research Program, the largest survey conducted among Australian veterans transitioning out of military service. The results highlighted a period of heightened risk for mental health problems, attributed to factors such as pre-existing mental health conditions and the challenges of adjusting to civilian life. 

Interestingly, the study also revealed a troubling connection between gambling issues and veterans. More than 13% of transitioned veterans reported problems with gambling, spanning from mild difficulties to clinically significant conditions. This trend was associated with trauma exposure, depression, and symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. Worryingly, most veterans seeking help did not specifically mention gambling problems. Instead, they primarily sought assistance for anxiety or depression.

Researchers Call for Regulations to Address Gambling and Suicidal Risks Among Veterans

The researchers also uncovered a strong correlation between gambling problems and suicidal tendencies among veterans. The likelihood of suicidal ideation or planning was significantly heightened among those grappling with gambling difficulties. However, the study did not establish causality, emphasizing the intricate web of factors underpinning suicide.

The authors stress the urgency of addressing gambling-related concerns and integrating support programs within veteran-specific services. As online gambling continues to expand, and the targeting of young men intensifies, calls for comprehensive regulatory interventions have grown louder. The inquiry into online gambling and its adverse effects on vulnerable populations has recommended stricter regulations and even a complete ban on gambling advertising, drawing parallels to successful anti-tobacco campaigns.

Liquor & Gaming New South Wales (L&G NSW), for example, is taking strong action against illegal gambling advertising. The regulator’s strict approach, including substantial penalties and court prosecutions, has made New South Wales a leading gambling jurisdiction while safeguarding consumers from deceptive advertising practices. Additionally, NSW is prioritizing a cashless solution to prevent money laundering and enhance player safety.

Author

Silvia has dabbled in all sorts of writing – from content writing for social media to movie scripts. She has a Bachelor's in Screenwriting and experience in marketing and producing documentary films. With her background as a customer support agent within the gambling industry, she brings valuable insight to the Gambling News writers’ team.

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