3303.0 - Causes of Death, Australia, 2008 Quality Declaration 
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 31/03/2010   
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Contents >> Suicides >> Key Characteristics


There were 2,191 deaths from Suicide registered in 2008. Over three-quarters (78%) of Suicides were males.

Intentional self-harm [Suicide] (X60-X84, Y87.0) was ranked as the 14th leading cause of all deaths registered in Australia in 2008. Males accounted for over three-quarters of all Suicide deaths in 2008, resulting in a ranking as the 10th leading cause of death for males. Although death by Suicide is a relatively uncommon event (occurring at a rate of about 10 per 100,000 population per year), the human and economic costs are substantial.

Suicide as proportion of total deaths

While Suicide accounts for only a relatively small proportion (1.5%) of all deaths in Australia, it does account for a much greater proportion of deaths from all causes within specific age groups (see graph below). For example, in 2008, 24% of all male deaths aged 15-24 years were due to Suicide. Similarly for females, Suicide deaths comprise a much higher proportion of total deaths in younger age groups compared with older age groups.

6.2 Suicides, by Selected Age Groups, 2008 (a) (b)
Graph: 6.2 Suicides, by Selected Age Groups, 2008 (a) (b)


Median age

The median age at death for Suicide in 2008 was 42.4 years for males, 43.5 years for females and 42.7 years overall. In comparison, the median age for deaths from all causes in 2008 was 77.9 years for males, 83.9 years for females and 80.9 years overall.

Age-specific 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 Glossary for further information). The pattern of age-specific rates in 2008 for Suicide in males and females is shown in the following graph.

6.3 Age-Specific Suicides Rates (a), 2008 (b) (c)
Graph: 6.3 Age-Specific Suicides Rates (a), 2008 (b) (c)

The highest age-specific Suicide death rate for males in 2008 was observed in the 40-44 year age group (26.4 per 100,000 population). As a proportion of total male deaths in this age group, Suicide deaths represented 16%. The age-specific death rates for the 85+ years age group was 26.2 per 100,000 males, and 24.5 per 100,000 males in the 45-49 year age group. Suicide as a proportion of total male deaths for these age groups were 0.2% and 10% respectively. The age-specific Suicide rate for males was lowest in the 15-24 year age group (9.4 per 100,000), however, this represented 20% of all deaths in this age group.

For females the highest age-specific Suicide death rate in 2008 was observed in the 50-54 year age group with 8.6 deaths per 100,000. The lowest age-specific death rate for female Suicide deaths was in the 80-84 year age groups (2.0 deaths per 100,000).

Age-standardised rates

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. The age-standardised Suicide rate (for persons) in 2008 was 10.2 per 100,000. This compares with 13.2 per 100,000 in 1999.

The age-standardised Suicide rate in 2008 for males was 16.0 per 100,000 while the corresponding rate for females was 4.5 per 100,000. Throughout the period 1999 to 2008, the male age-standardised Suicide death rate was approximately four times higher than the corresponding female rate, as can be seen in the following graph.

6.4 Age-Standardised Death Rates (a), for Suicide-1999-2008 (b)(c)(d)(e)
Graph: 6.4 Age-Standardised Death Rates (a), for Suicide–1999-2008  (b)(c)(d)(e)

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