The reasons people take their own life are complex and often there is no single reason why a person attempts or dies by suicide.
2020 Preliminary Suicide Data
The National Mental Health Commission has developed a self-harm and suicide monitoring system allowing for more timely access to accurate data. State-wide data for 2020 for Queensland, Victoria and NSW are now available and show no increase in suicide death in 2020 compared to the same period in 2020. Despite the common perception that COVID would have an impact on suicide rate, it is not shown it the data (it was however noted that there is an increase in psychological distress and in reaching out to support). It is important to share this information broadly as the perception of an increase can itself cause significant distress. The importance for decisions and conversations around suicide to be based on facts and evidence was emphasised.
Suicide Data 2018 – ABS (Released 2019)
- In 2018, preliminary data showed a total of 3,046 deaths by suicide (age-specific suicide rate 12.2 per 100,000).
- In comparison, a total of 2017 there was a recorded 3,128 deaths (age-specific suicide rate of 12.7 per 100,000).
- In 2018, preliminary data showed an average of 8.3 deaths by suicide in Australia each day (Mindframe, 2019).
- Of all causes of death, 1.9% was attributed to suicide in 2018.
- The causes often appear to be a complex mix of adverse life events, social and geographical isolation, cultural and family background, socio-economic disadvantage, genetic makeup, mental and physical health, the extent of support of family and friends, and the ability of a person to manage life events and bounce back from adversity.
- Suicide rates in Australia peaked in 1963 (17.5per 100,000), declining to 11.3 per 100,000 in 1984, and climbing back to 14.6 in 1997. Rates have been lower since 1997. The age-specific suicide rate for persons in 2018 was 12.2 per 100,000.
- Using the ‘Years of Potential Life Lost’ (YPLL) measure, suicide was estimated to account for 80,170 potential years lost in males, 25,429 years in females, and 105,580 potential years of life lost for all persons in 2018.
- For the 2018 preliminary data, ABS identified an administrative issue for Victorian data of which the 2018 preliminary data may not reflect final data figures for Victoria. Please take caution when reporting ABS state and territory figures.
- For those of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander suicide data Suicide prevention for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities
Suicide and age
- Overall, the age-specific suicide rate in 2018 was highest in men aged 85 or above (32.9 per 100,000), which has been the age group with the highest rate since 2011.
- For females, 2018 data showed that the highest age-specific suicide rate was observed in the 40-44 age group (9.4 per 100,000).
- Data shows that the largest age-specific increase was within males aged 45-54 years for 2018, with 431 deaths (age-specific rate 27.5 per 100,000) compared to 424 deaths (age-specific rate 27.2 per 100,000) in 2017.
- The largest age-specific increase for females was within the 35-44 years age group with 137 deaths (age-specific rate 8.3 per 100,000) in 2018 compared to 126 deaths (age-specific rate 7.7 per 100,000) in 2017.
- For males: The highest age-specific suicide rate in 2018 was observed in the 85+ age group (32.9 per 100,000). This rate was higher than the age-specific suicide rate observed in all other age groups, with the next highest age-specific suicide rates being in the 45-49 and 55-59 year age groups (28.1 and 27.6 per 100,000 respectively).
- For females: The highest age-specific suicide rate in 2018 was observed in the 80-84 age group (9.0 per 100,000), followed by the 35-39 and 40-44 age groups (7.2 and 9.4 per 100,000 respectively).
Children and Youth Suicide Data
- In 2018, males under aged 0-14 had the lowest suicide rate (0.5 per 100,000) of all males, with 12 deaths. Males aged 15-19 years had the fourth lowest rate of male suicide with 132 deaths (17.3 per 100,000). There was an increase of 26 deaths by suicide for males aged 15-19 compared to 2017 data.
- In 2018, females aged 0-14 years had the lowest suicide rate (0.4 per 100,000) with 10 deaths. Females aged 15-19 years had the sixth highest rate of female suicide with 52 deaths (7.2 per 100,000). There was an increase of 2 deaths by suicide for females aged 15-19 compared to 2017 data.
- Considering all causes of death in males for 2018, suicide accounted for 1.5% of all deaths among 0-14 year old males, 43.4% of deaths among 15-19 year old males and 39.8% of deaths among 20-24 year old males in 2018.
- Considering all causes of death in females for 2018, suicide accounted for 1.7% of deaths among 0-14 year old females, 34% of deaths among 15-19 year old females and 29.3% of deaths among 20-24 year old females in 2018.
- Youth suicide over the decades: During the mid-1980s, suicide rates for 15-19 year old males rose rapidly and peaked at 21.0 per 100,000 in 1988. During the 1990s, suicide rates for 15-19 year old males fluctuated around 17-19 per 100,000 for this group with a peak of 19.0 per 100,000 in 1991. These rates have gradually declined since the 1990s, having fluctuated between 10-15 per 100,000 within this age group for the past 10 years. The suicide rates for females aged 15-19 also fluctuate, with a high in 2012 (8.3 per 100,000) and were lowest in 2008 (3.6 per 100,000).
Information taken from life in mind Australia website (11/6/2020) https://lifeinmindaustralia.com.au
• Data on this webpage has been updated to reflect the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) Catalogue 3303.0 Cause of Death Australia, 2018 released in September 2019.
• Australian Bureau of Statistics. (2000). Suicides, Australia, 1921 to 1998. Catalogue No. 3309.0.Belconnen, ACT: Commonwealth of Australia. Accessed December 4, 2012
• Australian Bureau of Statistics. (2012). Suicides, Australia, 2010. Catalogue No. 3309.0 Belconnen, ACT: Commonwealth of Australia. Accessed March 24, 2014