MECHANISM BY INTENT - SELECTED CAUSES
External causes of death are required to be examined by a Coroner, who investigates both the mechanism by which a person died, and the intention of the injury (whether accidental, intentional or assault). For a death to be determined a suicide, it must be established by coronial enquiry that the death resulted from a deliberate act of the deceased with the intention of ending his or her own life (Intentional self-harm).
For deaths registered in 2006, 704 deaths were the subject of ongoing coronial investigations at the time ABS data was finalised, and had insufficient information recorded on NCIS in order to be able to determine any cause of death. These records will have been coded to R99 Other ill-defined and unspecified causes of mortality. Some of these deaths may be determined a suicide after further investigation.
Further, coronial processes to determine the intent of a death (whether intentional self harm, accidental, homicide, undetermined intent) are especially important for statistics on suicide deaths because information on intent is necessary to complete the coding under ICD-10 coding rules. Coroners' practices to determine the intent of a death may vary across the states and territories. In general, coroners may be reluctant to determine suicidal intent (particularly in children and young people). In some cases, no statement of intent will be made by a coroner. The reasons may include legislative or regulatory barriers, sympathy with the feelings of the family, or sensitivity to the cultural practices and religious beliefs of the family.
For some mechanisms of death where it may be very difficult to determine suicidal intent (e.g. single vehicle accidents, drownings), the burden of proof required for the coroner to establish that the death was suicide may make a finding of suicide less likely.
The table below presents selected external causes of death by mechanism and intent. It is possible that additional suicide deaths are contained within the Intent categories of Accidental and Undetermined Intent, particularly for the mechanisms of poisoning and hanging (See Explanatory note 57).
5.5 Selected external causes of death by mechanism and intent - 2006
Other intent (b)
|Poisonings (X40-X49, X60-X69, X85-X90, Y10-Y19) |
|Hanging and other threats to breathing (W75-Y84, X70, X91, Y20) |
|Drowning and submersion (W65-W74, X71, X92, Y21) |
|Firearms (W32-34, X72-X74, X93-X95, Y22-Y24) |
|Contact with sharp object (W25-W29, X78, X99, Y28) |
|Falls (W00-W19, X80, Y01, Y30) |
|- nil or rounded to zero (including null cells) |
|(a) Care should be taken in interpreting numbers of suicide deaths due to limitations in the data. For further information, see Explanatory Notes 57-58 and 74-75. |
|(b) Includes Complications of medical and surgical care (Y40-Y84) and Legal intervention and operations of war (Y35-Y36). |
|(c) Includes sequelae deaths. |
Further information on suicides is presented in the datacubes associated with this publication.
1. Butterworths Concise Australian Legal Dictionary, 1997, Butterworths Sydney.