3303.0 - Causes of Death, Australia, 2018 Quality Declaration 
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 25/09/2019   
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Intentional self-harm in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people

There were 169 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who died from suicide in 2018, equating to a standardised death rate of 24.1 suicide deaths per 100,000 persons (see table below). In 2017, there were 165 suicide deaths at a rate of 24.2. Suicide is the fifth leading cause of death for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

There were 129 male and 40 female suicide deaths in 2018 with standardised death rates of 38.1 and 10.3 respectively. As such the sex ratio (76.3% male, 23.7% female) is very similar to that recorded for all suicide deaths. The median age for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander suicide deaths was 31.8 years of age for males and 26.0 years of age for females.

Intentional self-harm features within the ten leading causes of death for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander males and females. For males, it was the second leading cause of death in 2018. For females, intentional self-harm was the seventh leading cause (equal with Cirrhosis and other diseases of the liver, and Diseases of the urinary system).

Five year aggregate death rates for the periods 2009-2013 and 2014-2018 are included in the table below to better enable comparison of rates over time. Between these periods the death rate for males increased from 30.4 to 36.4, while for females it increased from 10.7 to 11.6.

Methods for reporting on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander suicide deaths: Data reported in this article are compiled by jurisdiction of usual residence for New South Wales, Queensland, Western Australia, South Australia and the Northern Territory only. Data for Victoria, Tasmania and the Australian Capital Territory have been excluded in line with national reporting guidelines. For further information see Explanatory Notes 63-75.


Standardised death rates for suicide for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, 2009-2018 (a)(b)(c)(d)(e)(f)

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)
2018

Rate(c)
2009-2013

Rate(c)
2014-2018

Rate(c)

Male
25.8
33.4
31.7
26.9
33.7
32.8
37.0
36.5
37.5
38.1
30.4
36.4
Female
7.8
8.1
13.8
11.2
12.1
12.4
12.4
11.2
11.2
10.3
10.7
11.6
Persons
16.7
19.9
22.6
18.9
22.7
22.4
24.2
23.5
24.2
24.1
20.2
23.7

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: 2014 and 2015 (final), 2016 (revised), 2017 and 2018 (preliminary). See Explanatory Notes 59-62 in this publication and Causes of Death Revisions, 2015 Final Data (Technical Note) and 2016 Revised Data (Technical Note) in Causes of Death, Australia, 2017 (cat. no. 3303.0).
(b) The data presented for intentional self-harm includes ICD-10 codes X60-X84 and Y87.0. Care needs to be taken in interpreting figures relating to intentional self-harm. See Explanatory Notes 41 and 91-100 in this publication.
(c) Standardised death rate. Death rate per 100,000 estimated resident population as at 30 June (mid year). See Explanatory Notes 46-49 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 63-75.
(e) Rates presented in this table have been calculated using Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population estimates and projections based on the 2016 Census. As a result, these rates may differ from those previously published. See Explanatory Note 71 for further information.
(f) Changes in coding processes have been applied to 2018 data. See Technical Note Updates to Iris coding software: Implementing WHO updates and improvements in coding processes in this publication.



Intentional self-harm in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people by states and territories

The table below provides standardised death rates for states and territories for the five year periods 2009-2013 and 2014-2018. Western Australia has consistently recorded the highest death rate (34.4 in 2009-2013 and 37.9 in 2014-2018), with the lowest rates recorded in New South Wales. The Northern Territory was the only jurisdiction that recorded a decrease in the suicide rate across these two time periods.


Standardised death rates for suicide for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, by state or territory of usual residence, 2009-2013 and 2014-2018 (a)(b)(c)(d)(e)(f)

2009-2013

Rate (c)
2014-2018

Rate (c)

New South Wales
11.0
17.1
Queensland
20.7
24.0
South Australia
20.4
21.2
Western Australia
34.4
37.9
Northern Territory
29.1
26.2
Total
20.2
23.7

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: 2014 and 2015 (final), 2016 (revised), 2017 and 2018 (preliminary). See Explanatory Notes 59-62 in this publication and Causes of Death Revisions, 2015 Final Data (Technical Note) and 2016 Revised Data (Technical Note) in Causes of Death, Australia, 2017 (cat. no. 3303.0).
(b) The data presented for intentional self-harm includes ICD-10 codes X60-X84 and Y87.0. Care needs to be taken in interpreting figures relating to intentional self-harm. See Explanatory Notes 41 and 91-100 in this publication.
(c) Standardised death rate. Death rate per 100,000 estimated resident population as at 30 June (mid year). See Explanatory Notes 46-49 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 63-75.
(e) Rates presented in this table have been calculated using Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population estimates and projections based on the 2016 Census. As a result, these rates may differ from those previously published. See Explanatory Note 71 for further information.
(f) Changes in coding processes have been applied to 2018 data. See Technical Note Updates to Iris coding software: Implementing WHO updates and improvements in coding processes in this publication.


Intentional self-harm by Indigenous status

Mortality data can provide important insights into population health concerns relevant to different groups within the Australian population. Patterns of death among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people differ considerably to those of non-Indigenous Australians. This is certainly the case with suicide deaths. The table below shows standardised death rates for the five years from 2014 to 2018, highlighting that the death rates are almost double for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Suicide also accounts for a greater proportion of deaths overall, hence the much higher ranking of suicide in leading causes compared to non-Indigenous Australians.

Standardised death rates for suicide by Indigenous status and sex, 2014-2018 (a)(b)(c)(d)(e)(f)(g)(h)

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander

Rate(c)
Non-Indigenous

Rate(c)
Rate Ratio (g)
Rate Difference (h)

Male
36.4
19.0
1.9
17.5
Female
11.6
5.9
1.9
5.6
Persons
23.7
12.3
1.9
11.4

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: 2014 and 2015 (final), 2016 (revised), 2017 and 2018 (preliminary). See Explanatory Notes 59-62 in this publication and Causes of Death Revisions, 2015 Final Data (Technical Note) and 2016 Revised Data (Technical Note) in Causes of Death, Australia, 2017 (cat. no. 3303.0).
(b) The data presented for intentional self-harm includes ICD-10 codes X60-X84 and Y87.0. Care needs to be taken in interpreting figures relating to intentional self-harm. See Explanatory Notes 41 and 91-100 in this publication.
(c) Standardised death rate. Death rate per 100,000 estimated resident population as at 30 June (mid year). See Explanatory Notes 46-49 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 63-75.
(e) Rates presented in this table have been calculated using Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population estimates and projections based on the 2016 Census. As a result, these rates may differ from those previously published. See Explanatory Note 71 for further information.
(f) Changes in coding processes have been applied to 2018 data. See Technical Note Updates to Iris coding software: Implementing WHO updates and improvements in coding processes in this publication.
(g) The rate ratio is the rate for Indigenous persons divided by the non-Indigenous rate.
(h) The rate difference is the rate for Indigenous persons less the non-Indigenous rate.


Intentional self-harm deaths by Indigenous status and age

Understanding the differences in the characteristics of suicide deaths among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people compared to those for non-Indigenous Australians is important for helping to target strategies that can prevent future suicide deaths. Age-specific death rates are shown in the graph below and highlight the much higher rates among younger Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people (15 to 44 years of age) and the lower rates among older people (55 years of age and over).

Differences in key demographic variables can be important, as can other elements of mortality data. For instance, associated causes of death such as mental health conditions, drug and alcohol addictions, and other illnesses, can highlight issues specific to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people which may also impact on suicidality.

Age-specific death rates for intentional self-harm, by Indigenous status, 2014-2018 (a)(b)(c)(d)(e)(f)
Graph: Age-specific death rates for intentional self-harm, by Indigenous status, 2014-2018
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.
(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: 2014 and 2015 (final), 2016 (revised), 2017 and 2018 (preliminary). See Explanatory Notes 59-62 in this publication and Causes of Death Revisions, 2015 Final Data (Technical Note) and 2016 Revised Data (Technical Note) in Causes of Death, Australia, 2017 (cat. no. 3303.0).
(c) The data presented for intentional self-harm includes ICD-10 codes X60-X84 and Y87.0. Care needs to be taken in interpreting figures relating to intentional self-harm. See Explanatory Notes 41 and 91-100 in this publication.

(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 63-75.
(e) Rates presented in this graph have been calculated using Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population estimates and projections based on the 2016 Census. As a result, these rates may differ from those previously published. See Explanatory Note 71 for further information.
(f) Changes in coding processes have been applied to 2018 data. See Technical Note Updates to Iris coding software: Implementing WHO updates and improvements in coding processes in this publication.

Suicide deaths of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children

For the purposes of the following analysis, children are defined as those between 5 and 17 years of age. In 2018, suicide was the leading cause of death for both Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous children, accounting for more than a quarter (26.5%) of all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander child deaths. Land transport accidents was an equal leading cause for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in 2018. Children aged 15 to 17 accounted for 69.2% of all child suicides, while females accounted for more than half (61.5%) of child suicide deaths.

Over the five years from 2014 to 2018, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children accounted for close to a quarter of all child suicide deaths (85 of 357 deaths, 23.8%). The age-specific death rate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander child suicide was 8.3 deaths per 100,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, compared to 2.1 per 100,000 for non-Indigenous children. For more information on intentional self-harm among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children see Table 11.12 in Data Cube 11 in this publication.

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