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3320.0 - Deaths From External Causes, Australia, 1998 to 2002  
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 06/02/2004   
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MEDIA RELEASE

February 6, 2004
Embargoed: 11:30 AM (AEST)
23/2004
Suicide and transport accidents remain leading external causes of deaths

Suicide was the leading external (accidents and injury) cause of death, with transport accidents the second highest over a five year period (1998-2002) according to a report released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics today.

Over the five year period, 40,370 people in Australia died from external causes with 12,312 intentional self-harm (suicide) deaths and 9,923 deaths from transport accidents. External causes accounted for 6% of all deaths in this period.

The number of deaths from external causes has declined over the last 30 years with a marked decrease in motor vehicle accident deaths. Over the last 5 years there has also been a slight decrease in suicide deaths.

During 1998-2002, the majority of deaths from external causes were of males (69%). The male suicide death rate was nearly four times greater than the corresponding female rate. The male death rate for transport accidents was nearly three times greater than the corresponding female rate.

Overall external causes accounted for more deaths of those aged 0-55 years than any other cause.

Deaths from external causes as a proportion of all deaths varied among different age groups. Deaths from external causes accounted for 6% of all deaths (all ages), 15% of all deaths of 0-14 year olds, 70% of all deaths of 15-24 year olds, 18% of all deaths of those aged 25-64 years and 2% of all deaths of those aged 65 years and over. In older age groups, deaths from external causes account for a smaller proportion of all deaths because of the number of deaths from other causes e.g. chronic diseases.

Among children aged 0-14 years, accidental drowning (303 deaths) was a major external cause of death, accounting for 20% of all deaths from external causes in that age group.

Young adults aged 15-24 years had a higher age specific death rate from transport accidents (20 deaths per 100,000 people) than the total population (10 per 100,000 people).

The age specific death rate from suicide for those aged 25-64 was higher than the rate for the total population (18 and 13 deaths per 100,000 people respectively). For those aged 65 years and older, falls accounted for a large number of deaths (1,961) during 1998-2002.

In this report Indigenous deaths data included only that from NSW, Qld, SA, WA and NT, jurisdictions determined as having sufficient Indigenous deaths coverage. During 1998-2002, deaths from external causes accounted for 20% of all deaths of Indigenous males from these states and territories, compared to 8% of all deaths of males in the total Australian population. External causes accounted for 11% of all deaths of Indigenous females from these states and territories, and 4% of all deaths of females in the total Australian population.

The Northern Territory had the highest age-adjusted rate of deaths from external causes (90 per 100,000 people) followed by Tasmania (48 per 100,000 people), Qld, (47), WA (46), SA (41), NSW (40), Vic (39), and the ACT with the lowest rate (36).

Those in remote areas were more likely to die from external causes than those in major cities.

Further details are in Deaths from External Causes (cat. no. 3320.0).

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