Gold Coast family calls for royal commission into soldier suicides

A Gold Coast family who lost their son at age 32 have called for a Royal Commission into soldiers suffering from mental illness.

 

This year alone, more than 50 veterans have taken their own lives.

The family of Jesse Bird are renewing calls for a Royal Commission.

Jesse Bird, a soldier, took his own life at 32. Source: 7 News

The surfer and soldier committed suicide at 32, leaving behind his devastated parents John and Karen.

"Jesse's death has impacted a lot of people," Karen Bird said.

"And he is just one veteran who's died this year."

John and Karen Bird are calling for an independent Royal Commission into soldier suicide. Source: 7 News

A senate committee report into veteran suicide has come after what Senator Alex Gallacher called "quite a long-running, and in some cases distressing, inquiry."

The report makes 24 recommendations, including advice that clinicians be told exactly where returned soldiers have been so they can re-adjust to life away from the frontline.

A Senate inquiry has made a number of recommendations on how to best support returning soldiers. Source: 7 News

Clinical psychologist Katelyn Kerr said there needed to be more focus on veteran transition and employment.

"We know that meaningful employment can save lives," Dr Kerr said.

Afghanistan veteran Kiel Goodman said it was important for returned soldiers to be able to have people to talk to.

"Conversation is very powerful," says Afghanistan veteran Kiel Goodman. Source: 7 News

"Conversation is very powerful, and when you don't have that around you, your life can go downhill very quick."

Veterans Affairs minister Dan Tehan said it was imperative to "get it right, especially when it comes to our younger vets."

"We need to get it right, especially when it comes to our younger vets," Dan Tehan said. Source: 7 News

John and Karen Bird agree, but say the Senate inquiry is not enough to support veterans who are doing it tough.

"We need more than hopeful recommendations," Karen Bird said.

"We need an independent Royal Commission."

If you or someone you know is struggling mentally contact Lifeline for support on 131 114.

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