3303.0 - Causes of Death, Australia, 2017 Quality Declaration 
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 26/09/2018   
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Intentional self-harm in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People

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 61-73).

In 2017, 165 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander persons died as a result of suicide, with a standardised death rate of 25.5 deaths per 100,000 persons (See table Standardised death rates for Indigenous suicide, 2008-2017 below). This represents a slight increase from 2016, where there was 162 suicide deaths and a standardised death rate of 25.1. The standardised death rate for Indigenous male suicides was 39.6 deaths per 100,000 persons, compared with 11.9 suicide deaths per 100,000 persons for females. Deaths of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander males typically represent the vast majority of Indigenous suicide deaths and this trend continued in 2017, with 75.8% of all Indigenous suicide deaths attributed to males. This equates to a rate 3.3 times that of female Indigenous suicide deaths. While the rate of male Indigenous suicides is notably higher than female deaths, the median age at death is comparable, with females recording a median age of 28.3 years at death, compared with 29.8 years for males.

When aggregating five-year data to account for yearly fluctuations, Indigenous male suicide deaths are also seen to be increasing at a faster rate than female Indigenous suicide deaths. The standardised rate difference for female intentional self-harm deaths between 2008-2012 and 2013-2017 is 1.8 compared with the rate difference of 7.1 for Indigenous males.

Standardised death rates for Indigenous suicide, 2008-2017 (a)(b)(c)(d)

2008

Rate(c)
2009

Rate(c)
2010

Rate(c)
2011

Rate(c)
2012

Rate(c)
2013

Rate(c)
2014

Rate(c)
2015

Rate(c)
2016

Rate(c)
2017

Rate(c)
2008-2012

Rate(c)
2013-2017

Rate(c)

Male
26.5
27.5
35.4
33.5
28.6
35.7
34.8
39.6
39
39.6
30.7
37.8
Female
9.2
8.2
8.5
14.7
11.8
12.9
13.1
13.1
11.8
11.9
10.8
12.6
Persons
17.8
17.7
21.1
23.9
20
24
23.8
25.9
25.1
25.5
20.5
24.9

Footnote(s):
(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: 2008-2014 (final), 2015 (revised), 2016-2017 (preliminary). See Explanatory Notes 57-60 in this publication. See also Causes of Death Revisions, 2014 and 2015 (Technical Note) in Causes of Death, Australia, 2016 (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 91-100.
(c) Standardised death rate. Death rate per 100,000 estimated resident population as at 30 June. See Explanatory Notes 44-47 for further information

(d) 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 61-73.

When comparing intentional self-harm deaths between the Indigenous and Non-Indigenous populations, suicide accounted for a greater proportion of all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander deaths (5.5%) compared with deaths of Non-Indigenous Australians (2.0%). Intentional self-harm ranked as the 5th leading cause of death for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population, while it is ranked 13th for the Non-Indigenous population.

In 2017, suicide ranked as the 2nd leading cause of death for Indigenous males, with 39.6 deaths per 100,000 persons and 7th for Indigenous females, at 11.9 deaths per 100,000 persons. For the Non-Indigenous population, suicide ranked as the 10th and 21st leading cause for males and females, respectively. Both Indigenous males and females died from intentional self-harm at a rate 2 times that of the Non-Indigenous population. To account for year to year variance, single year data should be treated with caution and interpreted in the context of time-series data. The table below represents sex differences in intentional self-harm rates between the Indigenous and Non-Indigenous populations for the 5-year period 2013-2017.

Standardised death rates by Indigenous status and sex, 2013-2017 (a)(b)(c)(d)

Indigenous

Rate(c)
Non-Indigenous

Rate(c)
Rate Ratio
Rate Ratio

Male
37.8
18.4
2.1
19.4
Female
12.6
5.8
2.2
6.7
Persons
24.9
12
2.1
12.9

Footnote(s):
(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: 2013-2014 (final), 2015 (revised), 2016-2017 (preliminary). See Explanatory Notes 57-60 in this publication. See also Causes of Death Revisions, 2014 and 2015 (Technical Note) in Causes of Death, Australia, 2016 (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 91-100.
(c) Standardised death rate. Death rate per 100,000 estimated resident population as at 30 June. See Explanatory Notes 44-47 for further information

(d) 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 61-73.


Intentional self-harm by age

Deaths due to intentional self-harm in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people typically show high age-specific suicide rates amongst younger cohorts, in contrast to the Non-Indigenous population where the highest age-specific rates of suicide are seen in the older age groups. In 2017, the median age at death for suicide in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander persons was 29.5 years, compared with 45.4 years in the Non-Indigenous population. Indigenous age-specific suicide rates also tend to decrease as people get older. Over the 5 year period 2013 to 2017, Indigenous people aged 55 years and over recorded lower-age specific suicide rates than the Non-Indigenous population.

Intentional self-harm was the leading cause of death for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander persons between 15 and 34 years of age in 2017, with an age-specific death rate of 47.2 per 100,000 persons and rates over 3 times that of Non-Indigenous Australians. This age group accounted for 67.3% of all Indigenous intentional self-harm deaths. The highest age-specific rate in 2017 was seen in the 25-34 year age group, at 52.5 deaths per 100 000 persons. This has remained consistent over time and, when controlling for yearly fluctuations, this age group recorded the highest average age-specific rate over the last 5 year period (See graph Age-specific death rates for intentional self-harm by Indigenous status, 2013-2017 below). A particularly large rate difference was observed in the age group 45-54, increasing from 14.0 deaths to 22.7 deaths per 100,000 persons.

The lowest age-specific rate recorded for Indigenous suicides in 2017 was in the 75 years and over age group, with 12.2 deaths per 100,000 persons. However when averaged over a five year period, the 65-74 year age group recorded the lowest suicide rate at 9.9 deaths per 100,000 people.

Graph Image for Age-specific rates for intentional self-harm, by Indigenous status, 2013-2017 (a)(b)(c)(d)

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) 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: 2013-2014 (final), 2015 (revised), 2016-2017 (preliminary). See Explanatory Notes 57-60 in this publication. See also Causes of Death Revisions, 2014 and 2015 (Technical Note) in Causes of Death, Australia, 2016 (cat. no. 3303.0). (c) Includes ICD-10 codes X60-X84 and Y87.0. Care needs to be taken in interpreting figures relating to suicide. See Explanatory Notes 91-100. (d) 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 61-73.

Source(s): Age-specific rates for intentional self-harm, by Indigenous status, 2013-2017 (a)(b)(c)(d)-Age-specific rates for intentional self-harm, by Indigenous status, 2013-2017 (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 2017, suicide remained the leading cause of death for both Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and Non-Indigenous children and young people, accounting for 40% of all Indigenous child deaths. Those aged 15-17 contributed to 94.4% of all suicide deaths in young Indigenous people. When considering gender differences, 91.6% of Indigenous male youth suicides were aged 15-17. There were no female Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander suicide deaths under the age of 15 in 2017.

Over the 5 years from 2013 to 2017, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people accounted for more than a quarter of all suicide deaths in this age group (93 of 358 deaths, 26.0%). The age-specific death rate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people was 10.1 deaths per 100,000 persons, compared to 2.0 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