What we know about suicide for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples
Suicide has emerged in the past half century as a major cause of premature mortality and is a contributor to the overall health and life expectancy gap for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples1.
Data from the Centre of Best Practice in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention shows that:
- Suicide accounts 6% of all deaths in Indigenous peoples compared to 2% for non-Indigenous Australians.
- Suicide is the second leading cause of death for Indigenous males.
- Suicide is the seventh leading cause of death for Indigenous females.
- Suicide is the leading cause of death for Indigenous peoples aged 15 to 35 years.
- Suicide death rate is three times higher for Indigenous peoples aged 15 to 35 years compared to non-Indigenous Australians.
Suicide in Indigenous youth:
- 40% of deaths in Indigenous youth aged 5 to 17 years was caused by suicide.
- 23% of all suicide deaths in youth ages 5 to 17 years were Indigenous.
- Intentional self-harm in youth aged 15 to 24 is five times higher in Indigenous youth compared to non-Indigenous youth in Australia.
Further suicide data can be found at the Centre of Best Practice in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention, and from the ATSISPEP report.
Using data and statistics
Please note that when using statistics and data for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples:
- There is variable quality of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander identification at the state and national levels, resulting in an expected under-reporting of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander suicides.
- Lack of reporting on suicide due to questions regarding intent, especially in the case of childhood suicides. Similarly, it can be demonstrated that there may be a reluctance to classify adult deaths as suicides for a variety of reasons also.
- Delays in reporting data, whereby incidences of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander suicide might not be known for months and often years after the fact which can influence accuracy of the data.
Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) (2019). Causes of Death, Australia, 2019. Retrieved 1 October 2019 from