The costs of suicide to individuals and society are enormous. In Australia, suicide represents the fifteenth leading cause of all deaths, with 2,273 deaths from suicide registered in 2011.3 Given the complexities of data collection relating to suicide and issues of under-reporting4 , these figures are considered to be an underestimate of actual rates.
The number of suicide deaths recorded annually remained relatively stable from 2001-10, with the lowest number (2,098) recorded in 2004 and the highest number (2,457) recorded in 2001. Over these ten years, suicide accounted for between 1.6% and 1.9% of all deaths annually. However, the age-standardised suicide rate has decreased from 11.4 deaths per 100,000 population per year in the period 2001-055 to 10.6 deaths per 100,000 population per year in the period 2007-11.6
Suicide remains the leading cause of death for all Australians between 15-34 years of age, despite decreases in the suicide rate over the past decade. Males were between three and four times more likely than females to die from suicide in the period 2001-10. Rates of suicide also differed between states and territories, with particularly high rates in Tasmania and the Northern Territory. Rural areas were found to have higher suicide rates than capital cities.
Suicide rates for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are approximately twice those of non-Indigenous Australians, and rates are particularly high for younger Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. 7
3 Australian Bureau of Statistics, Causes of Death, Australia, 2011, Australian Bureau of Statistics, Canberra, 2013, accessed 16 April 2013.
4 De Leo, M Dudley, C Aebersold et al, 'Achieving standardised reporting of suicide in Australia: rationale and program for change', Medical Journal of Australia, vol 192, no 8, 2010, pp.452-456.
5 Australian Bureau of Statistics, Suicides, Australia, 2010, Australian Bureau of Statistics, Canberra, 2012, accessed 11 December 2012.
6 Australian Bureau of Statistics, Causes of Death, Australia, 2011.
7 Australian Bureau of Statistics, Suicides, Australia, 2010.