A defence inquiry has found a soldier who took his own life wasn’t provided the continuity of case management he needed
A soldier who took his own life wasn’t given the suicide risk assessment defence policy required following his earlier attempt.
A Defence commission of inquiry investigated whether Private Jacob Lee Lazarus’s experiences as a soldier contributed to his suicide on January 19, 2011, less than three months after an earlier attempt.
The inquiry found the 20-year-old was subject to some potentially antagonistic incidents but there was no credible evidence they contributed to his decision to take his own life.
It concluded he was a proud and popular soldier who enjoyed service life.
“(But) the reality is that Private Lazarus did not receive the continuity of case management that is expected,” the report said.
Private Lazarus joined the army in November 2009, hoping to serve in Afghanistan. He was posted to 6RAR in Brisbane in 2010 immediately after the unit returned from Afghanistan.
On November 10, 2011, he was found unconscious at his parents’ Brisbane home after attempting suicide. Contracted civilian doctors within defence considered him a low risk of a further attempt.
Despite a clear requirement, no suicide risk assessment was conducted.
He also saw a consultant psychiatrist, who declared him unfit for duty because of a major depressive illness. But he was unable to attend appointments in mid-January because of the floods and took his own life on convalescent leave.
His family acknowledged his death was planned in advance and hidden from them. It included taking out a $5000 personal bank loan, which he spent on dining out and gambling.
The inquiry report said defence policy must balance the need for medical information to be given to commanders against the doctors’ obligations on confidentiality.
Readers seeking support and information about suicide prevention can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or MensLine Australia 1300 78 99 78.