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SUICIDE BY AGE
The median age at death for suicide in 2013 was 44.5 years for males, 44.4 years for females and 44.5 overall. In comparison, the median age for deaths from all causes in 2013 was 78.4 years for males, 84.6 years for females and 81.7 years overall.
Age-specific death rates are the number of deaths during the reference year for specific age groups per 100,000 of the estimated resident population of the same age group (see Glossary for further information). The pattern of age-specific rates in 2013 for suicide in males and females is shown in the graph below.
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 87-93. (b) Rate per 100,000 estimated mid-year resident population for each age group and sex. (c) Causes of death data for 2013 are preliminary and subject to a revisions process. See Explanatory Notes 52-54 and Technical Notes, Causes of Death Revisions 2006, in Causes of Death, Australia, 2010 (cat. no. 3303.0) and Causes of Death Revisions 2011 and 2012 in this publication.
Source(s): Causes of Death, Australia
The highest age-specific suicide death rate for males in 2013 was observed in the 85 years and over age group (38.3 per 100,000 males). As a proportion of total male deaths in this age group, suicide deaths represented 0.3%. The second highest age-specific suicide rate was observed in the 40-44 year age groups, with 25.5 suicide deaths per 100,000 males. Suicide as a proportion of total male deaths for this age group was 17.4%. Excluding the 0-14 year age group, the age-specific suicide rate for males was lowest in the 15-19 year age group (14.3 deaths per 100,000). However, suicide accounted for over a third of all deaths in this age group (34.8%).
For females, the highest age-specific suicide death rate in 2013 was observed in the 40-44 year age group, with 9.4 deaths per 100,000. Outside of the 0-14 year age group, the lowest age-specific death rate for female deaths was in the 80-84 year age group (4.0 deaths per 100,000).
Age standardisation is used to compare death rates over time, as it accounts for any changes in the age structure of a population over time. The age-standardised suicide rate for persons in 2013 was 10.7 per 100,000. This compares with 10.5 per 100,000 in 2004.
The age-standardised suicide rate in 2013 for males was 16.3 per 100,000 while the corresponding rate for females was 5.4 per 100,000.
Footnote(s): (a) Age-standardised rate per 100,000. Standardised using direct method and the Australian estimated resident population (persons) at 30 June 2001 as standard population. (b) Includes ICD-10 codes X60-X84 and Y87.0. Care needs to be taken in interpreting figures relating to suicide. See Explanatory Notes 87-93. (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: 2006-2011 (final), 2012 (revised), 2013 (preliminary). See Explanatory Notes 52-54 and Technical Notes, Causes of Death Revisions, 2006 in Causes of Death, Australia, 2010 (cat. 3303.0) and Causes of Death Revisions, 2011 and 2012 in this publication.
Source(s): Causes of Death, Australia
The following two tables present the number of deaths from suicide by age group for the 2009-2013 reference period. Table 5.1 shows the number of deaths from suicide and age-specific death rates by age group and sex. Table 5.2 shows the number of deaths from suicide by age group and state or territory of usual residence.
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 87-93.
For the purposes of the following analysis children are defined as those aged under 18 years of age. The ABS is not aware of any recorded suicide deaths of children under the age of 5 years.
In 2013, suicide was the leading cause of death of children between 5 and 17 years of age. The number of suicide deaths in this group is small, but is significant in terms of the proportion of all deaths within this age group. In 2009, 9.9% of all deaths of individuals aged 5-17 were due to suicide. This proportion had increased to 19.3% in 2013. Rates of suicide in Australians aged 5-17 years have also increased, with 1.5 deaths per 100,000 of that population in 2009 and 2.5 per 100,000 in 2013. It is important to note that suicide rates in the overall population remain higher than for the 5-17 age group, with 10.9 deaths per 100,000 of the overall population in 2013.
When all child suicide deaths are combined for years 2009 to 2013, the Northern Territory reported the highest jurisdictional rate of child deaths due to suicide, with 8.2 deaths per 100,000 of the population. All other states and territories reported rates ranging from 1.3 to 3.1 deaths per 100,000. The national average over these five years was 2.1 deaths per 100,000 population.
Death rates from suicide differ between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders and non-Indigenous Australians. In the following analysis data for Victoria, Tasmania and the Australian Capital Territory have been excluded due to the insufficient level of indigenous identification and the small numbers of registered Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander deaths (for information on issues with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander identification, see Explanatory Notes 58-67). For reference years 2009-2013 combined, 74 of the 280 suicide deaths of those aged 5-17 years were Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, at a standardised death rate of 8.2 deaths per 100,000. In contrast, the standardised death rate for non-Indigenous individuals of the same age was 1.7 per 100,000.
Additional information on suicide deaths of children has been included in the Suicide datacube. If data requirements go beyond the information published in this release or available through ABS Information Consultancy Services, it should be noted that a national causes of death unit record file can be obtained through the Queensland Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages (data available on application for legitimate research purposes only).
Suicide by year of occurrence
While most data reported in the published outputs for Causes of Death, Australia are based upon the reference year of the death (see Explanatory Notes 7-11) the following section presents suicide deaths in terms of the year in which they occurred.
For the 2013 reference year, 9.6% of deaths had a year of occurrence prior to 2013. This compares with the 2012 reference year where 10.1% of deaths occurred prior to 2012, and the 2011 reference year where 7.0% of deaths occurred prior to 2011.
The number of deaths that are registered in any year will be different to the number of deaths that actually occurred in that year. Counts of specific causes of death (including suicide) based on year of occurrence are available for 2003-2012 in the Year of Occurrence datacube.
The proportion of suicide deaths that occur in a previous reference period can impact the overall count of suicide deaths, along with coronial investigations not being finalised and the revisions process undertaken by the ABS.
Lifeline: 13 11 14
Suicide Call Back Service - 1300 659 467
Kids Helpline (for young people aged 5 to 25 years): 1800 55 1800
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