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1301.0 - Year Book Australia, 2002  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 25/01/2002   
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Contents >> Health >> Injuries and deaths due to external causes

Injuries and poisoning are a significant source of preventable illness, disability and mortality in Australia, and place a heavy burden on health services. Injuries (e.g. fractured bones, lacerations) and poisoning (e.g. drug overdose) result from events such as car crashes, falls, suicide or attempted suicide, and interpersonal violence. Such events, and factors involved in them, are known collectively as 'External causes' of injury and poisoning.

"Injury, poisoning and certain other consequences of external causes" was recorded as the principal diagnosis for more than 413,735 episodes of inpatient care in Australian hospitals during 1999-2000 (table 9.13).

Falls are the most common external cause of injuries resulting in admission to a hospital. This is reflected in the draft National Injury Prevention Plan: Priorities for 2001 - 2003, which nominated falls among persons aged 65 years and older and falls among children under 15 years of age as two of four areas for priority action. The other areas are drowning and near drowning; and poisoning of infants and children less than 5 years of age. Although the number of deaths from these four types of injuries is relatively small, they account for a large number of hospital admissions.

Suicide and transport accidents presently account for more than half of all injury deaths in Australia. Suicide numbers and rates have risen in recent decades, especially for young and middle-aged men, bringing this topic substantial public and government attention since the mid-1990s. In contrast, the annual number of road deaths has dropped to about half the number in 1970, despite large increases in population and the amount of travel on roads. This decrease is attributable to the range of agencies and programs at Commonwealth and State/Territory level which have had long-standing responsibility for road safety issues, and other aspects of transport safety.


9.13 EXTERNAL CAUSES OF MORTALITY(a) AND HOSPITAL SEPARATIONS(b), Australia

Transport
accidents
Suicide
(Intentional
self-harm)
Other
external
causes
All
external
causes

Mortality(a)
-Number
2,011
2,492
3,858
8,361
-Rate(c)
10.6
13.2
20.4
44.2
Hospital separations(b)
-Number
51,460
20,927
341,348
413,735
-Rate(c)
270.1
109.8
1,791.7
2,171.7

(a) Deaths, for which the underlying cause was external cause, registered in the calendar year 1999.
(b) Separations from hospital during the year beginning 1 July 1999 for which the principal diagnosis was "Injury, poisoning and certain other consequences of external causes".
(c) Crude rate per 100,000 population.

Source: AIHW National Injury Surveillance Unit.

In 1999, 7% (8,361 deaths) of all deaths were due to external causes (table 9.14). Leading external causes of death were suicide (30% of all external causes of death) followed by motor vehicle accidents (21%) and poisoning by drugs/medicaments (12%). Males accounted for 70% of all deaths due to external causes (the male death rate was 62 per 100,000 compared with 26 for females). The male death rate for suicide (21.2 per 100,000 population) was approximately four times the female rate (5.2), and for motor vehicle accidents it was more than double the female rate (12.9 compared with 5.5).


9.14 EXTERNAL CAUSES OF DEATH - 1999

Cause of death
no.
%
Crude death
rate(a)

MALES

Suicide (intentional self-harm)
2,002
34.1
21.2
Motor vehicle accidents
1,216
20.7
12.9
Accidental falls
309
5.3
3.3
Homicide
204
3.5
2.2
Accidental drowning and submersion
203
3.5
2.2
Poisoning by drugs/medications
745
12.7
7.9
Other
1189
20.3
12.6
All external causes
5,868
100.0
62.3

FEMALES

Suicide (intentional self-harm)
490
19.7
5.2
Motor vehicle accidents
525
21.1
5.5
Accidental falls
211
8.5
2.2
Homicide
96
3.9
1.0
Accidental drowning and submersion
75
3.0
0.8
Poisoning by drugs/medications
271
10.9
2.8
Other
825
33.1
8.7
All external causes
2,493
100.0
26.2

PERSONS

Suicide (intentional self-harm)
2,492
29.8
13.2
Motor vehicle accidents
1,741
20.8
9.2
Accidental falls
520
6.2
2.7
Homicide
300
3.6
1.6
Accidental drowning and submersion
278
3.3
1.5
Poisoning by drugs/medications
1016
12.2
5.4
Other
2,014
24.1
10.6
All external causes
8,361
100.0
44.2

(a) Deaths per 100,000 population.

Source: Causes of Death, Australia, 1999 (3303.0).


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