Suicide in Australia

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In 2016, the suicide rate in Australia was 5.7 (W.H.O stats 11.7) deaths per 100,000 people, down from 6.6 per 100,000 people in 2007. 2,866 people died from suicide in Australia in 2016.[1] The World Health Organization reported the rate of suicide in Australia at 10.4 per 100,000 people per year (age standardised).[2] The Australian Department of Health reported that the age standardised rate of suicide decreased from 14.7 per 100,000 people in 1997, to 10.3 in 2005.[3]

Deaths from suicide occur among males at a rate three times greater than that for females. In 2016, the standardised death rate for males was 17.8 deaths per 100,000 people, while for females it was 5.8 deaths per 100,000 people.[1]

Background information[edit]

In Australia, 48% of all suicides in 2000 were by 35 to 64-year-olds; an additional 13% were by 65 year olds and over.[4] The suicide rates for children younger than 15 years is estimated to have increased by 92% between the 1960s to 1990s.[5] Suicide rates are generally higher amongst males, rural and regional dwellers, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.[6] Suicide prevention researcher, Gerry Georgatos has found that suicide rates among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, particularly in the Kimberley, Northern Territory and far north Queensland regions, are among the highest in the world. He describes the high rates as "a humanitarian crisis."[7][8]

For a death to be considered a suicide and counted as such in Australian statistics, three criteria need to be met:

  1. The death must be due to unnatural causes, such as injury, poisoning or suffocation rather than an illness
  2. The actions which result in death must be self-inflicted
  3. The person who injures himself or herself must have had the intention to die

(ResponseAbility, 2012)[9]

A study suggest that 1-2% of the NSW population has contemplated suicide in 1992. This was estimated to be approximately 90 000 people out of a population of about 6 million.[10]


Risk factors[edit]


In every state and territory of Australia, suicide is much more common among males than females, with the ratio standing at 3:1 in 2012.[15]

According to hospital data, females are more likely to deliberately injure themselves than males. In the 2008–2009 financial year, 62% of those who were hospitalised due to self-harm were female.[16]

Researchers have attributed the difference between attempted and completed suicides among the sexes to males using more lethal means to end their lives.[17]

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.[18] Comparing sex differences in suicide rates need to consider differences across the lifespan. Since 2003, for females, suicide rates range from 4 – 6 suicides per 100 000 with no apparent age association, whilst for men suicide rates range from 10 – 30 suicides per 100 000 with substantive differences across the lifespan; those males in middle and older age report substantially increased rates of suicide.[19]

Urban–rural differences[edit]

Overall suicide rates for males and females in Australia differ little between rural and urban areas. However, rates for young men are distinctly higher than women in rural settings. There are a number of different factors that contribute to this. The easy accessibility to firearms, lower socio-economic lifestyle and increased level of social isolation, all add to the higher rate of male suicide in rural Australia.[20][21]


There is a strong correlation between alcohol (as well as other drugs) and suicide in Australian young adults. Between 30 and 50% of suicides, detectable substances are found during post-mortem coronal investigations, with alcohol being the most common.[22]


The rate of suicide in Australian adolescents has gradually decreased, yet it still remains a prominent issue. Certain groups of young adults seem to be more at risk of potentially committing suicide. Youth of indigenous, rural or refugee backgrounds, as well as those in welfare, have been observed as having a higher rate of committing suicide. Young males tend to be more at risk than females.[23]

Since 2003, age-standardised rates of suicide have been stable for females across the life course whilst for young adult men there have been declines of between 5 and 8 deaths per 100,000 but increases of between 4 and 7 deaths per 100,000 in middle-aged men.[19] Middle and older-aged men continue to suicide at rates 4-6 times greater than females on average, and around at rates 2–3 times greater than teenage males.[19]


Studies suggest that in men there is a high correlation between the number of suicides and the length of unemployment accompanied by a decrease in the national unemployment rates. The data also states that the longer the period of low employment the higher the rate of suicides in the age group of men between ages 25–34 and 55–64.[24]


The Australian Bureau of Statistics has kept data on suicide rates since 1981. The data collected by the ABS may underestimate the suicide rate, because people may kill themselves in such a manner that others mistake as an accidental death.[25]: 1 

Mitigation efforts[edit]

In 1992, the National Health and Medical Research's Working Group was founded to examine suicide prevention in Australia.[26]

List of notable cases[edit]

  • In 1952, politician James Vinton Smith died by suicide by firearm.[27]
  • On 3 March 1990, prominent Melbourne business man and property developer Floyd Podgornik shot himself in his inner-city apartment.[28]
  • In 1991, John Friedrich took his own life by firearm.[29]
  • In the year 2000, Greg Wilton a Member of the House of Representatives committed suicide
  • In 2007, a member of the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) from Claremont in Tasmania, Kristy Corbett, was involved in a suicide case in which her former partner took his life. Corbett was investigated for her culpability but no charges were ever laid against her.[30]
  • In 2007, Charmaine Dragun, an Australian television newsreader, jumped off The Gap, an oceanside cliff.[31]
  • In 2014, Charlotte Dawson, an Australian TV presenter, died by suicide by hanging.[32]
  • In 2019, Annalise Braakensiek was found dead in her Sydney apartment from apparent suicide.[33]

See also[edit]


  • Sveticic, Jerneja (2009). Suicide research : selected readings. Queensland: Australian Academic Press. ISBN 9781922117182.


  1. ^ a b "Main Features – Intentional self-harm: key characteristics". Australian Bureau of Statistics. 27 September 2017. Archived from the original on 25 December 2017.
  2. ^ "Suicide rates, age standardized – Data by country". World Health Organization. 2015. Archived from the original on 14 April 2017. Retrieved 13 April 2017.
  3. ^ "A framework for prevention of suicide in Australia" (PDF). Australian Government. Archived from the original (PDF) on 4 March 2016.
  4. ^ Australian Institute for Suicide Research and Prevention, Australian Institute for Suicide Research and Prevention, 2011, archived from the original on 10 March 2012
  5. ^ Trends and predictors of suicide in Australian children, Australian Institute for Suicide Research and Prevention, 2011, archived from the original on 19 February 2012
  6. ^ Facts and Statistics, Mindframe National Media Initiative, 2012, archived from the original on 18 February 2013
  7. ^ "Nation shamed when child sees suicide as solution", The Australian, 7 November 2014
  8. ^ Indigenous suicide rates are a humanitarian crisis, NT News/AAP, 15 July 2015, archived from the original on 9 October 2015
  9. ^ "Adolescent suicide in Australia:Rates, risk and resilience". 2012. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  10. ^ Sayer, Stewart & Chipps, Geoffrey, Gavin & Jennifer (June 1996). "Suicide attempts in NSW: Associated mortality and morbidity". NSW Public Health Bulletin.
  11. ^ "Beyond Blue Depression and anxiety". Beyond Blue. 2015. Archived from the original on 18 April 2015. Retrieved 16 April 2015.
  12. ^ "Lifeline Australia – 13 11 14 – Crisis Support and Suicide Prevention". Archived from the original on 3 April 2015.
  13. ^ "Home". Menslink. Archived from the original on 2 August 2017.
  14. ^ "Home – Suicide Prevention Australia". Archived from the original on 11 April 2015.
  15. ^ "Facts and Stats about suicide in Australia". 2014. Archived from the original on 1 April 2015. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  16. ^ McKenna K & Harrison JE, Australian Institute of Health & Welfare (2012). Hospital separations due to injury and poisoning, Australia 2008-09 (Injury research and statistics series no. 65. Cat. no. INJCAT 141. ed.). Canberra: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. p. 74. ISBN 978-1-74249-341-1. Archived from the original on 10 July 2017.
  17. ^ David Sue, Derald Wing Sue, Diane Sue, Stanley Sue (2013). Understanding abnormal behavior (Tenth ed., [student ed.] ed.). Belmont, California: Wadsworth/Cengage Learning. p. 255. ISBN 978-1-111-83459-3.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  18. ^ Facts and Statistics, Mindframe National Media Initiative, 2011, archived from the original on 28 July 2011
  19. ^ a b c Burns, Richard A. (30 November 2016). "Sex and age trends in Australia's suicide rate over the last decade: Something is still seriously wrong with men in middle and late life". Psychiatry Research. 245: 224–229. doi:10.1016/j.psychres.2016.08.036. ISSN 1872-7123. PMID 27552673. S2CID 4907253.
  20. ^ Alston, Margaret (2012). "Rural male suicide in Australia". Social Science & Medicine. 74 (4): 515–522. doi:10.1016/j.socscimed.2010.04.036. PMID 20541304.
  21. ^ Qi, Xin (2012). "Spatial clusters of suicide in Australia". BMC Psychiatry. 12: 86. doi:10.1186/1471-244X-12-86. PMC 3464902. PMID 22824367.
  22. ^ Topp, Libby (2011). "Suicide in Australia: Where do alcohol and drugs fit in?". Of Substance. Retrieved 16 April 2015.
  23. ^ McNamara, Patricia (2012). "Adolescent suicide in Australia: Rates, risks and resilience". Clinical Child Psychology and Psychiatry. 18 (3): 351–369. doi:10.1177/1359104512455812. PMID 23118313. S2CID 30612970. Retrieved 16 April 2015.
  24. ^ Milner, Page & LaMontagne, Alison, Andrew & Anthony (23 October 2012). "Duration of unemployment and suicide in Australia of the period 1985-2006: An ecological investigation by sex and age during declining national unemployment rates". Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health. 6 (2): 151. doi:10.1017/S1474746406003423. S2CID 146207424. Archived from the original on 1 May 2019. Retrieved 14 December 2019.
  25. ^ Madden, Richard (1994). "Suicides, Australia: 1982-1992" (PDF). Australian Bureau of Statistics. Archived (PDF) from the original on 20 November 2015. Retrieved 20 November 2015. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  26. ^ "3309.0 Suicides, Australia (1921 to 1998)" (PDF). Australian Bureau of Statistics. Archived (PDF) from the original on 6 March 2019. Retrieved 7 April 2019.
  27. ^ "VINTON SMITH FOUND DEAD". The Argus. Melbourne. 23 July 1952. p. 5. Archived from the original on 16 October 2021. Retrieved 29 May 2012 – via National Library of Australia.
  28. ^ "Archived copy". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on 20 February 2019. Retrieved 19 February 2019.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  29. ^ "Twenty years on". 6 April 2009. Archived from the original on 25 December 2017. Retrieved 26 December 2017.
  30. ^ Sveticic 2009, p. 108
  31. ^ "News reader found dead". The Australian. 2 November 2007. Retrieved 13 April 2015.
  32. ^ "Australian TV personality Charlotte Dawson commits suicide". fox411. 23 February 2014. Archived from the original on 19 February 2015. Retrieved 13 April 2015.
  33. ^ Hoyer, Melissa (7 January 2019). "Annalise Braakensiek found dead in Sydney Potts Point apartment". — Australia's Leading News Site. Archived from the original on 19 January 2019. Retrieved 20 February 2019.

External links[edit]