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3309.0 - Suicides, Australia, 1921 to 1998  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 29/03/2000   
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MEDIA RELEASE

March 29, 2000
Embargoed: 11:30 AM (AEST)
/2000

ABS finds suicide highest in 25-44 age group

In 1998, people in the 25-44 years age group had the highest rate of suicide (23 suicides per 100,000 persons), followed by people in the 15-24 years age group (17 suicides per 100,000 persons), according to a report released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics. There were 2683 suicides registered in 1998, 40 less than in 1997.

The overall suicide rate in 1998 was much the same as it was in 1921 at 14 suicides per 100,000 persons. However, over this period the rate has fluctuated considerably and the components which make up the rate have changed. For example, although male suicide rates have been significantly higher than female rates every year, this ratio has varied from a high of five male suicides to every female suicide in 1921-1925 to a low of two to one in 1966-1970.

The suicide rate has varied by age over this period with the trend for older Australians being the reverse of that for young people. Suicide rates declined in the 65-plus age group (from 27 per 100,000 persons in 1921-1925 to 15 in 1996-1998) and increased in the 15-24 years age group (from 6 to 17 over the same period).

In 1998, people living in capital cities had the lowest rate of suicide (13 per 100,000 persons). In general people living in other urban areas had the next lowest rate (15), and people living in rural areas had the highest (17).

In 1998, the Northern Territory recorded the highest death rate from suicide (21 per 100,000 persons), followed by Queensland and South Australia (16), Western Australia (15), New South Wales (13), Tasmania and Victoria (12) and the Australian Capital Territory (9.5). Care needs to be taken, however, when interpreting State and Territory suicide rates because of small numbers and yearly fluctuations, especially in the smaller States and Territories.

The ABS has tabulated all causes and conditions reported on death certificates since 1997. Results show that in 1998 15% of males and 18% of females who suicided also had an associated or contributory diagnosis of a mental disorder. Approximately 4% of males and 5% of females who suicided also had a disease of the circulatory system mentioned on their death certificate.

In the period 1995-1997, using estimates based on the 1996 Census, married people (9 per 100,000 persons) were less likely to die from suicide than those who were never married (22), widowed (13) or divorced (26 per 100,000 persons).

In general, the most likely method of suicide for males throughout the 1990s was hanging, and for females poisoning by solid or liquid substance. However, in 1998, hanging was the leading method of suicide for both males and females.

Details are in Suicides, Australia, 1921-1998 (Cat. No. 3309.0). If you wish to purchase a copy of this publication, please contact the ABS bookshop in your capital city.


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