4125.0 - Gender Indicators, Australia, Jan 2012
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 07/02/2012
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STANDARDISED DEATH RATE FROM SUICIDE (a)(b)(c)
Of all deaths classified as suicide in 2009, over three-quarters (77%) were males (2,132), making suicide the 10th leading cause of death for males. Male suicide occurs at a much higher rate than that for females. In 2009, the age standardised male suicide rate was 14.9 deaths per 100,000 males compared to the female rate of 4.4 deaths per 100,000 females. However, the data for 2009 are subject to revision. The suicide death rate has declined since 2000 from 19.8 deaths per 100,000 for males and 5.2 deaths per 100,000 for females.
Suicide is a major social and public health issue. (Endnote 1) While such deaths can occur for many reasons, and many complex factors might influence a person’s decision to suicide, these preventable deaths point to individuals who may be less connected to support networks. (Endnote 2) For instance, they may be less inclined to seek help or may be less intimately connected to people who might otherwise be aware of problems or step in to assist. (Endnote 3)
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. Age standardised death rates enable the comparison of death rates between populations with different age structures by relating them to a standard population. The age standardised death rates in this analysis have been calculated using the direct method (used when the populations under study are large), which calculates the overall death rate that would have prevailed in the standard population if it had experienced, at each age, the death rates of the population under study.
Care needs to be taken in using and interpreting figures relating to suicide as the reported 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. For further information, and how deaths are classified as suicide by the ABS, see Explanatory Notes 80-83 in ABS Causes of Death, Australia, 2009 (cat. no. 3303.0).
The median age at death for suicide in 2009 was 43.4 years for males and 44.9 years for females. In comparison, the median age for deaths from all causes in 2009 was 77.8 years for males and 83.9 years for females. (Endnote 4)
Age-specific suicide death rates
Age-specific death rates are the number of deaths during the reference year at a specified age per 100,000 of the estimated resident population of the same age (see Health Glossary for further information).
The age-specific suicide rate was higher for males across all age groups, with the oldest group (85 years and over) having the highest suicide rate (28.2 per 100,000) in 2009. The suicide rate for this 85 years and over age group has declined significantly from 46.4 deaths per 100,000 in 2000. Middle aged males aged 35-44 years and 45-54 years had higher suicide rates (22.8 and 21.6 deaths per 100,000 respectively) than did younger males or those aged 55-84 years. For females, the highest age-specific suicide death rate in 2009 was in the 45-54 year age group, with 7.2 deaths per 100,000, while the lowest rate for female suicides was in the 15-24 year age group (3.9 deaths per 100,000).
The suicide rate was higher for young males than young females. In 2009, males aged 15-24 years had a rate of around 12.5 suicides per 100,000 compared to 3.9 suicides per 100,000 for females aged 15-24 years.
1. Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2000, Australian Social Trends, Mar 2000 (cat. no. 4102.0) <www.abs.gov.au>.
2. Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) 2001, Society at a Glance: OECD Social Indicators, OECD, Paris, <www.oecd.org>.
3. Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2010, Measures of Australia's Progress, 2010 (cat. no. 1370.0) <www.abs.gov.au>.
4. Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2011, ABS Causes of Death, Australia (cat. no. 3303.0), ABS, Canberra, <www.abs.gov.au>.
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