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INTENTIONAL SELF-HARM BY AGE
The median age at death for intentional self-harm in 2014 was 44.4 years for males, 43.6 years for females and 44.2 years overall. In comparison, the median age for deaths from all causes in 2014 was 78.5 years for males, 84.8 years for females and 81.8 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 the Glossary in this publication for further information). The pattern of age-specific rates in 2014 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 85-92. (b) Rate per 100,000 estimated mid-year resident population for each age group and sex. (c) Causes of death data for 2014 are preliminary and subject to a revisions process. See Explanatory Notes 68-94 and the Causes of Death Revisions 2012 and 2013 Technical Note in this publication.
The highest age-specific suicide death rate for males in 2014 was observed in the 85 years and over age group (37.6 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 29.9 suicide deaths per 100,000 males. Suicide as a proportion of total male deaths for this age group was 18.3%. Excluding the 0-14 year age group, the age-specific suicide rate for males was lowest in the 15-19 year age group (12.1 deaths per 100,000). However, suicide accounted for over a third of all deaths in this age group (35.9%).
For females, the highest age-specific suicide death rate in 2014 was observed in the 35-39 year age group, with 9.2 deaths per 100,000. Outside of the 0-14 year age group, the lowest age-specific death rate for female deaths was in the 75-79 year age group (3.4 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. The age-standardised suicide rate for persons in 2014 was 12.0 per 100,000.
The age-standardised suicide rate in 2014 for males was 18.4 per 100,000 while the corresponding rate for females was 5.9 per 100,000.
Footnote(s): (a) Age-standardised rate per 100,000. (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: 2007-2012 (final), 2013 (revised), 2014 (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, 2012 and 2013 in this publication.
The following two tables present the number of deaths from suicide by age group for the combined 2010-2014 reference period. Table 3.1 shows the number of deaths from suicide and age-specific death rates by age group and sex. Table 3.2 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 85-92.
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 2014, 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 2014. It is important to note that suicide rates in the overall population remain higher than for the 5-17 year age group, with 12.2 deaths per 100,000 of the overall population in 2014.
When all child suicide deaths are combined for years 2010 to 2014, the Northern Territory reported the highest jurisdictional rate of child deaths due to suicide, with 12.7 deaths per 100,000 of the population. All other states and territories reported rates ranging from 1.4 to 3.6 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.
Death rates from suicide differ between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders and non-Indigenous Australians. In the following analysis 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 57-66). For reference years 2010-2014 combined, 84 of the 305 suicide deaths of those aged 5-17 years were Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, with a age-specific death rate of 9.3 deaths per 100,000. In contrast, the age-specific death rate for non-Indigenous persons of the same age was 1.7 per 100,000.
Intentional self-harm 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 2014 reference year, 10.4% of suicide deaths had a year of occurrence prior to 2014. This compares with the 2013 reference year where 9.4% of deaths occurred prior to 2013, and the 2012 reference year where 10.1% of deaths occurred prior to 2012.
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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