3303.0 - Causes of Death, Australia, 2016  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 27/09/2017   
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Intentional self-harm in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people

In 2016, 162 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander persons died as a result of suicide. The standardised death rate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander persons was 23.8 deaths per 100,000 persons, compared to 11.4 deaths per 100,000 for non-Indigenous persons. Suicide deaths also accounted for a greater proportion of all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander deaths (5.5%) compared with deaths of non-Indigenous Australians (1.7%).

This section focuses on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander suicide deaths for which the usual residence of the deceased was in New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Western Australia or the Northern Territory. Data for Victoria, Tasmania and the Australian Capital Territory have been excluded, in line with national reporting guidelines (for information on issues with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander identification, see Explanatory Notes 56-66).


Intentional self-harm deaths by age

In the five years from 2012 to 2016, intentional self-harm was the leading cause of death for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander persons between 15 and 34 years of age, and was the second leading cause for those 35-44 years of age. The median age at death for suicide in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander persons over this period was 29.0 years, compared with 45.0 years in the non-Indigenous population. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander females had a lower median age at death than males (26.1 years for females compared with 29.8 years for males).

The graph below presents age-specific death rates by Indigenous status for the five-year period from 2012 to 2016. The graph shows the particularly high age-specific suicide rates among younger Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, with rates between two and four times those of non-Indigenous Australians in age groups between 15 and 44. In contrast, those aged 55 years and over recorded lower age-specific suicide rates than the non-Indigenous population.

Graph Image for Age specific death rates for Intentional self-harm, by Indigenous status, 2012-2016 (a)(b)(c)(d)(e)

Footnote(s): (a) Standardised death rate. Deaths per 100,000 of estimated mid-year population. See Glossary for further information. (b) Data are reported by jurisdiction of usual residence for NSW, Qld, WA, SA and the NT only. Data for Victoria, Tasmania and the Australian Capital Territory have been excluded in line with national reporting guidelines. For information on issues with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander identification, see Explanatory Notes 59-70. (c) Causes of death data for 2016 are preliminary and subject to a revisions process. See Explanatory Notes 55-58. (d) The age-specific death rates for 2012-2015 presented in this table have been recalculated using 2016-census-based population estimates. As a result, these rates may differ from those previously published. (e) Deaths registered on Norfolk Island from 1 July 2016 are included in this publication for the first time, see Explanatory Notes 12-15.

Source(s): Age specific death rates for Intentional self-harm, by Indigenous status, 2012-2016 (a)(b)(c)(d)(e)-ASDRs for Intentional self-harm, by Indigenous status, 2012-2016 (a)(b)(c)(d)

Suicide deaths of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people

For the purposes of the following analysis, children and young people are defined as those aged between 5 and 17 years of age. In 2016, suicide was the leading cause of death for both Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous children and young people.

Over the 5 years from 2012 to 2016, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people accounted for more than a quarter of all suicide deaths in this age group (90 of the 337 deaths, 26.7%). The age-specific death rate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people was 9.8 deaths per 100,000 persons, compared to 1.9 per 100,000 for non-Indigenous persons.

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