Suicide and self-harm
Message: Suicide is a major public health issue that kills more than 3,000 Australians in a typical year.
Breakdown: From 2010-2016 (inclusive) an average of 2,692 people died each year in Australia by suicide (11.6 deaths per 100,000).1 2,866 people2 died by suicide in Australia in 2016 (11.8 per 100,000 deaths3).
Message: Around eight people die each day in Australia by suicide.
Breakdown: 2,866 people died by suicide in Australia in 2016, which is the equivalent of 7.85 people each day.
Message: Men are at least three times more likely to die by suicide than women.
Breakdown: In the period 2010-2016, males were three times more likely to die by suicide than females. 4 In 2016, 2,151 (75%) people who died by suicide were male and 715 (25%) were female.5
Message: The latest evidence indicates that the Northern Territory has the highest suicide rate of any Australian state or territory in 2016 by a significant margin, followed by Tasmania. ACT has the lowest.
Breakdown: The Northern Territory had a suicide rate of 19.3 deaths per 100,000 in 2016. This is followed by Tasmania with 17, Western Australia with a rate of 14.4, Queensland with 13.9, South Australia with 13.3, NSW with 10.3, Victoria with 9.9 and the ACT with 7.2.6
Message: Suicide kills more than twice as many people in Australia as the road toll each year.
Breakdown: 2,866 people died by suicide in Australia in 2016, compared to 1,295 who died in road crashes.7
Message: Suicide is the leading cause of death for Australians aged between 15 and 44.
Breakdown: 403 Australians (12.5 per 100,000) aged 15 to 24 died by suicide in 2016, making it the biggest killer in this age group.
573 Australians aged 25-34 (15.9 per 100,000) died by suicide in 2016, making it the biggest killer in this age group.
549 Australians aged 35-44 (17 per 100,000) died by suicide in 2016, making it the biggest killer in this age group.8
Message: The highest suicide rate among men is in the age group 85 and over. For females it is women aged 45 to 49.
Breakdown: In 2016, the suicide rage in men aged 85 and over was 40 deaths per 100,000, a rate higher than any other age category. This category of men has recorded the highest rate of suicide in every one of the last 10 years except for two (2008 and 2010).9
For women in 2016, those aged 50 to 54 recorded the highest rate, with 10.4 per 100,000. This was followed by those aged 40 to 44, with 8.5 per 100,000.10
Note: while these age groups record the highest rates of suicide, they are not necessarily the leading cause of death in these age groups. In addition, while the total number of men aged 85 and over who took their life in 2015 was lower than other ages (68) as a proportion of the total population in that age group it is the highest.
Message: Indigenous Australians are twice as likely to die by suicide than non-Indigenous Australians.
Breakdown: Indigenous Australians were two times more likely to die by suicide than non-indigenous Australians in 2016, with a rate of 23.8 per 100,000 Indigenous Australians dying by suicide that year compared to 11.4 per 100,000 non-Indigenous people.11
(Note this figure relates to NSW, Qld, WA, SA and NT only)
Message: Australia’s official suicide rate has not changed significantly over the past 10 years but has been slightly higher in recent years than it was at the start of the decade. It is unclear whether this is because more people are taking their own life or because data has become more reliable.
Breakdown: Australia’s suicide rate was 10.4 per 100,000 deaths in 2005, 10.4 in 2006, 10.7 in 2007, 11.0 in 2008, 10.8 in 2009, 11.3 in 2010, 10.7 in 2011, 11.4 in 2012, 11.1 in 2013, 12.2 in 2014, 12.7 in 2015 and 11.8 in 2016.12
However, the ABS has said that better data reporting and other changes such as administrative changes that it has introduced in recent years may have impacted on the dataset.13
Message: Remoteness is a major risk factor contributing to suicide and the likelihood that someone will die by suicide appears to increase the further away from a city they live.
Breakdown: Data from 2001-02 to 2010-11 shows that, out of five zones of residence, residents of Major cities had the lowest rate of suicide deaths per 100,000 people while residents of the Very remote zone had the highest rate every year.14
For example, in 2010-11, residents of Major cities had a suicide rate of 9.4 per 100,000 people and residents of the Very remote zone had a rate of 18.1 15. Further, from 2001-02 to 2010-11, residents in Inner regional areas generally had the second lowest rate, residents in Outer regional areas generally had the third lowest and residents in Remote areas generally had the fourth lowest.16
Message: There are an estimated 75,000 suicide attempts each year or over 205 each day in Australia.
Breakdown: There were around 65,000 suicide attempts in Australia in 2007.17 With population growth, that figure would likely equate to about 75,000 or 205 a day.^
Message: Most people who experience depression or anxiety do not experience suicidality.
Breakdown: In a typical year, only 17.4% of people who have experienced an affective* disorder that year experience any suicidality18. Similarly, only 9.1% of people who have experienced an anxiety** disorder that year experience any suicidality. However mental health conditions are a significant risk factor for suicidality and the rate of suicidality increases with the number of mental health conditions a person has.19
^ This figure has been calculated by extrapolating the Australian 16-85 year-old population from 2001.0 ABS 2016 Census of Population and Housing, 2017 (this was the most reliable data in November 2017). The population figure, which is 18,550,429 (approx. 15.83% higher than 2007), has then been multiplied by the number in The Mental Health of Australians 2: Report on the 2007 National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing.
* An affective disorder is defined by the ABS in this research as one or more of the following: depressive episode, dysthymia and bipolar affective disorder.
** An anxiety disorder is defined by the ABS in this research as one or more of the following: panic disorder, agoraphobia, social phobia, generalised anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder.