In 2010, a senate inquiry (The Hidden Toll: Suicide in Australia) highlighted the potential costs of suicide to individuals, families and communities. Suicide can be defined as the deliberate taking of one's life (Butterworths Concise Australian Legal Dictionary, 1997, Butterworths Sydney). To be classified as a suicide, a death must be recognised as being due to other than natural causes. Detailed information on how deaths are classified as suicide by the ABS can be found in Explanatory Notes 92-95.
This chapter contains summary statistics on suicide deaths registered in Australia, where the underlying cause of death was determined as Intentional self-harm (suicide (X60-X84, Y87.0)). Further information on suicides is presented in the data cubes associated with this publication.
External causes of death are required to be examined by the coroner, who investigates both the mechanism by which a person died, and the intention of the injury (whether accidental, intentional self-harm or assault). For a death to be determined a suicide, it may be established by coronial inquiry that the death resulted from a deliberate act of the deceased with the intention of ending his or her own life (intentional self-harm). In addition to coroner-determined suicides, deaths may also be coded to suicide following further investigation of information on the NCIS. For further information on how a death may be coded to suicide, see Explanatory Notes 94.
The ABS has invested in improvements to suicide data through both a two-year revisions process and improved coding practices. However, the number of suicide deaths may be affected by the number of open coronial cases with insufficient information available for coding at the time of ABS processing for publication. Therefore care should be taken in using and interpreting suicide data. For further information, see Explanatory Notes 92-95. Further information on the revisions process the ABS undertakes can be found in Explanatory Notes 29-33 and Technical Notes, Causes of Death Revisions, 2006 in the Causes of Death, Australia, 2010 publication, and Causes of Death Revisions, 2009 and 2010 in this publication for further information.