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Stats and Facts

Australian suicide data and statistics

The following information and linked fact sheet is copyright of the Commonwealth of Australia. It is provided courtesy of the Department of Health and Ageing.

A death is classified as a ‘suicide’ by a coroner based on evidence that a person died as a result of a deliberate act to cause his or her own death. If there is contrary evidence, a coroner may classify the death as having been caused by someone else (murder or manslaughter), or as accidental.If there is insufficient evidence, the coroner may not be able to reach a decision as to the cause of death.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics is responsible for gathering data from each of the jurisdictions and compiling the annual publication Causes of Death. There are some issues around quality of data due to inconsistent coronial practices; however there are ongoing efforts to make the statistics as accurate as possible.

Rates and trends of suicide in Australia

In 2005 2,101 deaths by suicide were registered in Australia (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2007):

  • this is an age-standardised rate of 10.3 per 100,000 people. This rate has been dropping steadily since a peak of 14.7 suicides per 100,000 people in 1997;
  • males accounted for nearly 80% of these deaths;
  • this compares with 1,638 deaths by motor vehicle accidents in the same period; and
  • suicide accounted for almost a quarter of all deaths amongst young men aged 20 to 34.

Suicide rates by age group

Suicide rates are fairly similar for females of all ages with the highest age-specific rate in the 35-39 years age group (6.9 per 100,000) and the lowest in the 15-19 years age group (3.6 per 100,000). The age-specific suicide rates for males shows significant variations between age groups, with the highest being in the 30-34 years age group (27.5 per 100,000 ) and the lowest in the 15-19 years age group (9.5 per 100,000). In men aged over 75 the rate was 21.6 per 100,000.

Suicide rates by gender

Recent data suggest that suicide rates in Australia have declined since the late 1990s, especially in young people. Among males, suicide rates have dropped since a high in the late 1990s, but female rates have remained fairly constant (at around 5 per 100,000), and are consistently around one quarter of the rate for males.

For further information, download the fact sheet: pdf LIFE fact sheet 3: Suicide statistics in Australia (562.72kB)