3303.0 - Causes of Death, Australia, 1997  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 15/01/1999   
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  • AIDS-related deaths decrease while deaths from suicide increase (Media Release)


January 15, 1999
Embargoed: 11:30 AM (AEST)

AIDS-related deaths decrease while deaths from suicide increase

According to figures released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the number of AIDS-related deaths declined significantly in 1997, continuing the downward trend which began in 1995. There were 279 AIDS-related deaths registered in 1997 compared with 568 in 1996 and 666 in 1995.

On the other hand, the number of suicides in 1997 was the highest ever recorded (2,723), representing a 14% increase on the corresponding 1996 figure. Suicide death rates are highest for people aged 25-44 years. Deaths due to suicides accounted for 2% of all deaths registered in 1997. However, in the 15-24 age group, where overall death rates are low, suicide represents 26% of deaths.

In 1997, suicide due to the use of 'firearms and explosives' decreased by almost 14%, while suicide due to 'hanging, strangulation and suffocation' rose by almost 25%.

The ABS, in its publication Causes of Death, Australia (Cat. No. 3303.0), reports that there were 129,350 deaths registered in 1997, comprising 67,752 male and 61,598 female deaths. Almost half of these deaths were due to cancer (27%) and ischaemic heart disease (22%). In 1997, the standardised death rate for all causes was 624.3, down from 641.5 in 1996. This rate has fallen every year since 1988 when it stood at 752.2.

Other features of the data include:
  • Malignant neoplasms of the trachea, bronchus and lung accounted for 19% of all cancer deaths in 1997 and remained the largest cause of cancer deaths among males. While the standardised death rate from this cause decreased marginally between 1988 and 1997, during the same period the rate for males fell by 20%, contrasting with the rate for females which increased by 10%.
  • Breast cancer accounted for 17% of all female cancer deaths, retaining its status as the principal cause of cancer deaths among females. However, since 1988, there has been a 10% decrease in the female standardised death rate for breast cancer.
  • In 1997, there were 29,051 deaths due to ischaemic heart disease. The standardised death rate for males was almost double that for females. Since 1988, the standardised death rate has decreased by 31%, with similar trends being exhibited for both males and females.
  • In 1997, deaths from accidents accounted for the majority (59%) of deaths from external causes. This proportion has decreased over time, with accidents accounting for 68% of the total deaths from external causes in 1988. The major factor in this decline has been the decrease in the standardised death rate due to motor vehicle accidents from 18.6 in 1988 to 9.9 in 1997.
  • After rising for two consecutive years, perinatal deaths (stillbirths and deaths of children within 28 days of birth) declined by almost 9% in 1997. In 1997, stillbirths accounted for 65% of all perinatal deaths, compared with 57% in 1998.

The publication is available from ABS bookshops. Main features from the publication are available from this site.