Statistics and Information on Suicide for World Suicide Prevention Day

Today is World Suicide Prevention Day. Annually around the world, one million people take their own lives each year. Approximately 2000 Australians die from suicide every year. Men are 4 times more likely to die by suicide than women and they use more violent means generally to end their lives. This Blog is to give some information on the Australian suicide. The Statistics are are couple of years old.

If you are having suicidal thoughts, please contact the Pastoral Team at Nowra City Church on 4421 4602 or these organisations. Don’t go through a hard time alone.

Call Lifeline on 13 11 14 

Kids Help Line: 1800 55 1800

Salvation Army 24-hour Care Line: 1300 36 36 22

Suicide Facts And Statistics

This section contains a brief overview of facts and statistics about suicide in Australia. The main source of Australian data on suicides is the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). They release new data on an annual basis. Unless otherwise stated, the statistics provided in this document are from the ABS publication, Causes of Death, Australia, Suicides 2010 (ABS Cat. No. 3303.0) 1.

Definition of Terms

Terms that are commonly used when discussing suicide include:

  • Suicide – death as a result of self-inflicted harm where the intention was to die.
  • Attempted suicide – self-inflicted harm where death does not occur but the intention of the person was to die.
  • Self-harm – self-inflicted harm where death does not occur and the intention may or may not have been to die.
  • Suicidal behaviour – acts such as suicide and attempted suicide.
  • Suicidal ideation/thoughts – thoughts about, or plans for, taking one’s own life that may or may not lead to a suicide attempt.

A Note on Interpreting Suicide Facts and Statistics

Suicide statistics are usually reported as either the total number of persons who died by suicide or as an age-standardised suicide rate, such as 7 per 100 000 people. This means that for every 100 000 people in a population or sub-group, seven died by suicide in a given time period (usually a year). Suicide statistics may also be reported as a percentage of deaths from all causes, such as 2% of all deaths in a population were due to suicide. This means that for every 100 deaths in a population in a given time period, two were due to suicide.

Caution should be exercised when reporting and interpreting suicide information. The reliability of suicide statistics are affected by a number of factors including under-reporting, differences in reporting methods across states and territories, and the length of time it takes for Coroners to process deaths that are reported as potential suicides.

How many people die by suicide in Australia?

  • Suicide is a prominent public health concern in Australia. Over the past decade, about 2100 people have died by suicide each year2. Click here for more information on hospitalised self-harm in Australia. (PDF ~184kb)
  • There were 2132 deaths from suicide registered in 2009, which is down from the 2282 deaths from suicide recorded in 2008. Note that both 2008 and 2009 figures are subject to revision.
  • Deaths from suicide represented 1.4% of all deaths registered in 2009.

Is the problem getting worse?

  • Suicide rates for both males and females have generally decreased since the mid-90s with the overall suicide rate decreasing by 23% between 1999 and 2009.
  • Suicide rates for males peaked in 1997 at 23.6 per 100,000 but have steadily decreased since then and stood at 14.9 per 100 000 in 2009.
  • Female rates reached a high of 6.2 per 100 000 in 1997. Rates declined after that and was 4.5 per 100 000 in 2009.

Do rates vary between states?

  • Combining suicide data over a 5-year period provides a more reliable picture of differences across the states and territories due to the relatively small number of suicides in some states and territories in any one year.
  • In recent years (2005-2009) the Northern Territory and Tasmania have had the highest rates of suicide, followed by South Australia. In contrast, New South Wales and Victoria had the lowest rates of suicide and the Australian Capital Territory and Queensland had fluctuating rates.

Are the rates different for males and females?

  • Suicide rates for males are higher than those for females and have been higher since at least the 1920’s3; however, more women than men attempt suicide4.
  • The ratio of male to female suicides rose from 2:1 in the 1960s to over 4:1 in the mid 1990s. In recent years, the suicide rate for males has reduced slightly and it is now 3.3 times that of females in 2009, and is consistent across most age groups.
  • Between 2000 and 2009, the suicide rate fell by 22%, with this rate of change different for males (24%) and females (13%).

Do rates vary across age groups?

  • The peak age-group for suicide in men is 85 years and over (28.2 per 100,000 in 2009). Over the last 10 years, this group has consistently had generally higher rates than other age groups of men. Nevertheless it is improtant to note that rates of suicide in this older age group has declined 46.4 per 100,000 in 2000.
  • In other age groups, there has been a trend towards men in their middle years having the highest rates of suicide.
  • From 1990 onwards, there has not been any one age group of females that has consistently had a higher rate of suicide than other age groups.

Is there a youth suicide epidemic?

  • The number of suicides among males aged 15 to 19 years has generally been decreasing over recent years. In 1997, 121 males in this age group died by suicide (18.5 per 100 000). In 2009, 72 males aged 15 to 19 died by suicide (9.3 per 100 000). This was slightly less than the rate for the previous two years.
  • The number of suicides observed for females aged 15 to 19 years has also generally been substantially less than in 1997 (33 suicides or 5.3 per 100 000).
  • Suicide in children under the age of 15 years is a rare event in Australia.

Suicide warning signs:

These pointers are adapted from the Victorian Government’s excellent ‘Youth suicide prevention – the warning signs’.


  • Loss of interest in activities they used to enjoy
  • Giving away prized possessions
  • Thoroughly cleaning their room and throwing out important things
  • Violent or rebellious behaviour
  • Running away from home
  • Substance abuse
  • Taking no interest in their clothes or appearance
  • A sudden, marked personality change
  • Withdrawal from friends, family and their usual activities
  • A seeming increase in their accident proneness, or signs of self-harm
  • A change in eating and sleeping patterns
  • A drop in school performance, due to decreased concentration and feelings of boredom
  • Frequent complaints about stomach aches, headaches, tiredness and other symptoms that may be linked to emotional upsets
  • Rejection of praise or rewards
  • Verbal hints such as ‘I won’t be a problem for you much longer’ or ‘Nothing matters anyway’
  • Suddenly becoming cheerful after a period of being down, which may indicate they have made a resolution to take her life


Categories: Current Affairs, Wisdom for life

Tags: , , ,

1 reply

  1. Hi Peter – came across this online via FB – you’ve put together some great content. Thanks for the education on this serious matter and for taking the time to keep us informed.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: