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3309.0.55.001 - Suicides: Recent Trends, Australia, 1993 to 2003  
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 15/12/2004   
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Age-specific death rate

Age-specific death rates are the number of deaths registered (or occurred) during the calendar year at a specified age per 100,000 of the estimated resident population of the same age at mid-point of the year (30 June).

Causes of death

Causes of death recorded on death certificates are those diseases, morbid conditions, or injuries which either resulted in or contributed to death. From the information provided on the death certificates an underlying cause of death is coded according to the rules and guidelines of that particular revision of the International Classification of Diseases.

Crude death rate

The crude death rate is the number of deaths registered during the calendar year per 1,000 estimated resident population at 30 June.


Death refers to any death which occurs in, or en route to Australia and is registered with a State or Territory Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages.

Estimated resident population

Estimated resident population (ERP) data are estimates of the Australian population obtained by adding to the estimated resident population at the beginning of each period the components of natural increase ( on a usual residence basis) and net overseas migration.

Method of suicide

In this publication, suicide deaths data for registration years 1993-1996 have been coded to ICD-9 while data for registration years 1997-2003 have been coded to ICD-10. For suicide deaths, ICD-9 and ICD-10 classifications are comparable. Codes for groupings of methods used in this publication are shown below.

Method of suicide

ICD-9 codes
ICD-10 codes

Poisoning by drugs
E950.0 - E950.5
X60 - X64
Poisoning by 'other'(a)
E950.6 - E952.9
X65 - X69
Hanging, strangulation, and suffocation
Firearms and explosives
X72 - X75
E954, E956 - E959
X71, X76 - X84
All suicides
E950 - E959
X60 - X84

(a) includes motor vehicle exhaust
(b) includes drowning, smoke/fire/flames, sharp object, jumping from high place, jumping or lying before moving object, other and unspecified


Suicide refers to the deliberate taking of one's life. To be classified as a suicide a death must be recognised as due to other than natural causes and established by a coronial inquiry that death results from a deliberate act of the deceased with the intention of taking his or her own life.

Standardised death rate

Standardised death rates enable the comparison of death rates between populations with different age structures by relating them to a standard population. The ABS standard populations relate to the years ending in 1 (e.g. 2001). The current standard population is all persons in the 2001 Australian population. They are expressed per 100,000 persons.

There are two methods of calculating standardised death rates:

  • The direct method - this is used when the populations under study are large and the age-specific death rates are reliable. It is the overall death rate that would have prevailed in the standard population if it had experienced at each age the death rates of the population under study; and
  • The indirect method - this is used when the populations under study are small and the age-specific death rates are unreliable or not known. It is an adjustment to the crude death rate of the standard population to account for the variation between the actual number of deaths in the population under study and the number of deaths which would have occurred if the population under study had experienced the age-specific death rates of the standard population.

Standardised rates in this publication:
  • Five year age groups (0-4, 5-9, ... 85 & over) were used in the calculation of standardised rates, and a small number of records where age at death was not stated were excluded.
  • For direct standardised rates the standard population used was the Estimated Resident Population (ERP) for Australia at June 2001.
  • For age-and-sex standardised rates using the indirect method, expected deaths were calculated by applying suicide rates for Australian males and females by 5 year age groups for the period 1999-2003 to the estimated populations for States and Territories for June 2001 (the mid-point of the period 1999-2003).

Standardised mortality ratio (SMR)

The ratio of the actual number of deaths in the population under study and the number of deaths which would have occurred if the population under study had experienced the age-specific death rates of the standard population (see also standardised death rate, the indirect method).

Undetermined intent

Possible suicides where the coroner concludes an ‘open’ finding and not explicitly suicide are excluded from analysis in this publication. See explanatory notes in Suicides 1921-1998 (ABS cat. no. 3309.0) for further explanation of deaths of undetermined intent.

Underlying Cause of Death

The underlying cause of death is the disease or injury which the doctor (or coroner) reported on the death certificate as being the cause that initiated the train of events leading directly to death, or the circumstances of the accident, or violence which produced the fatal injury.

Year of Occurrence

Data presented on year of occurrence basis relate to the date the death occurred.

Year of Registration

Data presented on year of registration basis relate to the date the death was registered.

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