Dementia rises to second leading cause of death for men

Media Release

Dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease, overtook lung cancer as the second leading cause of death for men and remained the leading cause for women in 2019, data released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) shows.

Director of Health and Vital Statistics at the ABS, James Eynstone-Hinkins, said dementia accounted for just over 15,000 of the 169,301 deaths in 2019. The number of dementia deaths has increased by 67% over the past 10 years.

“Heart disease remained the leading cause of death, with more than 18,000 deaths in 2019. Heart disease is the leading cause among men and is responsible for twice as many male deaths as dementia.

“For all Australians, heart disease, dementia, strokes, lung cancer and chronic lower respiratory diseases (which includes emphysema), made up the top five leading causes of death.” he said.

Lung cancer was the most common cause of cancer death, followed by colon cancer, blood and lymph cancers, prostate and breast cancer. All cancers combined accounted for 49,432 deaths in 2019.

A reasonably severe flu season in 2019 saw Influenza and pneumonia rise from the 12th to 9th leading cause between 2018 and 2019. Influenza and pneumonia accounted for 4,124 deaths.

Suicide was the leading cause of death among people aged 15 to 49 and accounted for the highest number of years of life lost. In 2019, suicide deaths occurred at a rate of 12.9 deaths per 100,000 people.

Analysis of factors related to suicide deaths highlighted common associations with mood disorders including depression, psychoactive substance use disorders, relationship issues and past suicide attempts.

Comprehensive data and analysis can be found in Causes of Death, Australia (cat. no. 3303.0), available for free download from the ABS website -

Media notes


  • Care should be taken when reporting suicide deaths. Please refer to the Mindframe website for further guidance.
  • Care should be taken when interpreting figures relating to suicide and when comparing suicide data with previous years. See the Intentional self-harm sub-section in Methodology for more information.
  • Years of life lost is a measure of premature mortality based on age at death. See the Methodology section for more information.
  • When reporting ABS data you must attribute the Australian Bureau of Statistics (or the ABS) as the source.
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