3303.0 - Causes of Death, Australia, 2015 Quality Declaration 
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 28/09/2016   
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SUICIDE IN AUSTRALIA

In 2015, 3,027 people died from intentional self-harm (X60-X84, Y87.0) in Australia. To understand how the number of deaths due to suicide has changed in Australia over time, standardised death rates are used, as they enable the comparison of death rates between populations with different age structures. In 2015, the standardised death rate was 12.6 deaths per 100,000 people (see graph below). This compares with a rate of 10.2 suicide deaths per 100,000 persons in 2006. The ranking of suicide as a leading cause of death has also changed over time; it is now the 13th leading cause of death in Australia, compared to the 14th leading cause in 2006.

Deaths from intentional self-harm occur among males at a rate three times greater than that for females. In 2015, the standardised death rate for males was 19.3 deaths per 100,000 people, while for females it was 6.1 deaths per 100,000 people.

Graph Image for Standardised death rates for Intentional self-harm, 2006-2015 (a)(b)(c)

Footnote(s): (a) Standardised death rates. Deaths per 100,000 of estimated mid-year population. See Glossary for further information. (b) Includes ICD-10 codes X60-X84 and Y87.0. Care needs to be taken in interpreting figures relating to suicide. See Explanatory Notes 85-93. (c) All causes of death data from 2006 onward are subject to a revisions process - once data for a reference year are 'final', they are no longer revised. Affected data in this table are: 2006-2012 (final), 2013 (revised), 2014-2015 (preliminary). See Explanatory Notes 52-55 and A More Timely Annual Collection: Changes to ABS Processes (Technical Note) in this publication. See also Causes of Death Revisions, 2012 and 2013 (Technical Note) in Causes of Death, Australia, 2014 (cat. no. 3303.0).

Source(s): Standardised death rates for Intentional self-harm, 2006-2015 (a)(b)(c)-Age-standardised death rates for suicide, 2006-2015




Suicide deaths by states and territories

The standardised death rate for suicide in 2015 was 12.6 deaths per 100,000 persons. This was the highest rate recorded in the past 10 years. All states and territories except South Australia reported a stable or increasing suicide rate from 2014 to 2015. (Please see data cube 11 on intentional-self harm in this publication for further information on suicide deaths by jurisdiction, including counts of suicide deaths.) Table 3.1, below, shows the standardised death rates for each state and territory over the ten years to 2015. Although the largest rate increase from 2014 to 2015 occurred in Tasmania, Queensland recorded the greatest increase in the number of suicide deaths (from 648 to 746 deaths). New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland are the most populous states and collectively accounted for 73.2% of all suicide deaths in Australia in 2015.


3.1 STANDARDISED DEATH RATES FOR SUICIDE, State/territory of usual residence, 2006-2015

2006

Rate(c)
2007

Rate(c)
2008

Rate(c)
2009

Rate(c)
2010

Rate(c)
2011

Rate(c)
2012

Rate(c)
2013

Rate(c)
2014

Rate(c)
2015

Rate(c)

NSW
8.4
8.9
8.8
8.7
9.3
8.4
9.8
9.4
10.3
10.6
Vic
9.4
9.0
10.2
10.5
10.1
9.2
9.0
8.7
10.8
10.8
Qld
12.3
12.7
13.2
12.1
13.4
12.9
13.9
14.4
13.7
15.7
SA
11.4
12.8
11.0
11.5
11.8
12.9
11.7
11.6
14.2
13.4
WA
11.9
12.5
13.8
12.3
13.6
12.9
14.9
13.2
14.4
15.0
Tas.
14.6
13.5
15.0
15.4
13.0
14.1
13.7
13.8
12.7
16.3
NT
15.2
29.8
17.5
17.4
18.8
18.5
19.2
14.3
20.8
21.0
ACT
9.4
9.5
10.1
8.9
11.3
9.3
6.2
9.6
9.8
11.6
Australia
10.2
10.6
10.9
10.7
11.2
10.5
11.2
10.9
12.0
12.6

(a) All causes of death data from 2006 onward are subject to a revisions process - once data for a reference year are 'final', they are no longer revised. Affected data in this table are: 2006-2012 (final), 2013 (revised), 2014-2015 (preliminary). See Explanatory Notes 52-55 and A More Timely Annual Collection: Changes to ABS Processes (Technical Note) in this publication. See also Causes of Death Revisions, 2012 and 2013 (Technical Note) in Causes of Death, Australia, 2014 (cat. no. 3303.0).
(b) Includes ICD-10 codes X60-X84 and Y87.0. Care needs to be taken in interpreting figures relating to suicide. See Explanatory Notes
85-93.
(c) Standardised death rate. Death rate per 100,000 estimated resident population as at 30 June. See Explanatory Notes 40-42 for further information.

Suicide as a proportion of total deaths

While intentional self-harm accounts for a relatively small proportion (1.9%) of all deaths in Australia, it accounts for a higher proportion of deaths among younger people. In 2015, suicide accounted for one-third of deaths (33.9%) among people 15-24 years of age, and over a quarter of deaths (27.7%) among those 25-34 years of age. For those people 35-44 years of age, 16.9% of deaths were due to intentional self-harm. The proportion of deaths due to suicide decreases in older age groups, as the likelihood of dying from natural causes of death increases.

AGE DISTRIBUTION OF DEATHS DUE TO INTENTIONAL SELF-HARM

In 2015, suicide was the leading cause of death among all people 15-44 years of age, and the second leading cause of death among those 45-54 years of age. The median age at death for suicide was 44.5 years. This compares to a median age of 81.9 years for all deaths.

The graph below shows the proportion of all suicide deaths that occurred within each 5 year age group. While the number of suicide deaths differs significantly for males and females, the age distribution of these deaths is very similar. The highest proportion of suicide deaths of males occurs among those 40-44 years of age, while for females it is the 45-49 age group. For both males and females the proportion of suicide deaths decreases among those over 55 years of age. Differences between males and females are most apparent in the youngest age group, with a higher proportion of female deaths occurring among those 15-19 years of age.

Graph Image for Suicide deaths by age and sex as a percentage of total suicide deaths, 2015(a)(b)

Footnote(s): (a) Includes ICD-10 codes X60-X84 and Y87.0. Care needs to be taken in interpreting figures relating to suicide. See Explanatory Notes 85-93. (b) Causes of death data for 2015 are preliminary and subject to a revisions process. See Explanatory Notes 52-55 and A More Timely Annual Collection: Changes to ABS Processes (Technical Note) in this publication.

Source(s): Suicide deaths by age and sex as a percentage of total suicide deaths, 2015(a)(b)-Suicide death rates proportioned by age and sex, 2015




Age-specific death rates for intentional self-harm

Age-specific death rates reflect the number of deaths for a specific age group, expressed per 100,000 of the estimated resident population of that same age group, for a given period (see the Glossary in this publication for further information). Age-specific suicide death rates for 2015 are shown in the graph below.

The 0-14 year age group has been excluded from this graph because of the small number of deaths that occur within that age group. The age-specific death rate is highest among males 85 years and over, but it should be noted that the number of suicides in this age group accounted for 3% of all male intentional self harm deaths in 2015.

Graph Image for Age-specific death rates for Intentional self-harm, by sex, 2015 (a)(b)(c)

Footnote(s): (a) Age-specific death rate. Deaths per 100,000 of estimated mid-year population for each age group. See Glossary for further information. (b) Includes ICD-10 codes X60-X84 and Y87.0. Care needs to be taken in interpreting figures relating to suicide. See Explanatory Notes 85-93. (c) Causes of death data for 2015 are preliminary and subject to a revisions process. See Explanatory Notes 52-55 and A More Timely Annual Collection: Changes to ABS Processes (Technical Note) in this publication.

Source(s): Age-specific death rates for Intentional self-harm, by sex, 2015 (a)(b)(c)-Age-specific suicide rates, 2015




Age-specific deaths rates for males aged between 40 and 54 were all greater than 30 deaths per 100,000 males. Suicide accounted for 12.4% of all male deaths for these combined age groups. The age-specific suicide rate for males was lowest in the 15-19 year age group (11.8 deaths per 100,000 males), yet suicide accounted for 28.6% of all deaths in that age group.

For females, the highest age-specific suicide rate in 2015 was observed in the 45-49 year age group, with 10.4 deaths per 100,000 persons. The lowest age-specific death rate for females occurred among those aged 65-69 years (4.5 deaths per 100,000).

Suicide deaths of children

Deaths of children by suicide is an extremely sensitive issue. The number of deaths of children attributed to suicide can be influenced by coronial reporting practices. Reporting practices may lead to differences in counts across jurisdictions and this should be taken into account when interpreting these data. For more information on issues associated with the compilation and interpretation of suicide data, see Explanatory Notes 85-93.

For the purposes of the following analysis, children are defined as those aged between 5 and 17 years of age. The ABS is not aware of any recorded suicide deaths of children under the age of 5 years. In 2015, suicide was the leading cause of death of children between 5 and 17 years of age. The age-specific rate of suicide in this age group was 2.3 per 100,000 in 2015. It is important to note that suicide rates in the overall population remain higher than for the 5-17 year age group, with a crude death rate of 12.7 deaths per 100,000 persons in 2015.

When all child suicide deaths are combined for years 2011 to 2015, the Northern Territory reported the highest jurisdictional rate of child deaths due to suicide, with 13.6 deaths per 100,000 persons. All other states and territories reported rates ranging from 1.6 to 3.1 deaths per 100,000 (New South Wales and Tasmania, respectively). The corresponding rate for Australia for this age group was 2.2 deaths per 100,000 persons.


3.2 INTENTIONAL SELF-HARM IN CHILDREN AGED 5-17 YEARS, Australia, 2011-2015(a)(b)(c)

Age group (years)
2011

No./proportion
2011

Rate(d)
2012

No./proportion
2012

Rate(d)
2013

No./proportion
2013

Rate(d)
2014

No./proportion
2014

Rate(d)
2015

No./proportion
2015

Rate(d)

5-17 years
Males
Suicide
38
2.0
38
2.0
60
3.1
50
2.6
47
2.4
All causes
304
16.3
285
15.1
283
14.8
244
12.7
298
15.3
Proportion(e)
12.5
na
13.3
na
21.2
na
20.5
na
15.8
na
Females
Suicide
29
1.6
40
2.2
34
1.9
37
2.0
40
2.2
All causes
209
11.8
215
12.0
204
11.3
195
10.7
217
11.7
Proportion(e)
13.9
na
18.6
na
16.7
na
19.0
na
18.4
na
Persons
Suicide
67
1.8
78
2.1
94
2.5
87
2.3
87
2.3
All causes
513
14.1
500
13.6
487
13.1
439
11.7
515
13.5
Proportion(e)
13.1
na
15.6
na
19.3
na
19.8
na
16.9
na
All ages(d)
2 393
10.7
2 580
11.4
2 570
11.1
2 864
12.2
3 027
12.7

na Not applicable
(a) All causes of death data from 2006 onward are subject to a revisions process - once data for a reference year are 'final', they are no longer revised. Affected data in this table are: 2006-2012 (final), 2013 (revised), 2014-2015 (preliminary). See Explanatory Notes 52-55 and A More Timely Annual Collection: Changes to ABS Processes (Technical Note) in this publication. See also Causes of Death Revisions, 2012 and 2013 (Technical Note) in Causes of Death, Australia, 2014 (cat. no. 3303.0).
(b) Cells with small values have been randomly assigned to protect the confidentiality of individuals. Cells with a zero value have not been affected by confidentialisation.
(c) Includes ICD-10 codes X60-X84 and Y87.0. Care needs to be taken in interpreting figures relating to suicide. See Explanatory Notes 85-93.
(d) Crude death rate per 100,000 estimated resident population as at 30 June.
(e) Intentional self-harm deaths as a proportion of all deaths in the 5-17 year age group.

Crisis helplines

Lifeline: 13 11 14

Suicide Call Back Service - 1300 659 467

Kids Helpline (for young people aged 5 to 25 years): 1800 55 1800