National suicide data
When exploring suicide data, it is important to remember that people, families, and communities impacted by suicide in Australia are behind the numbers. The reasons people take their own life are complex, and often there is no single reason why a person attempts or dies by suicide.
Sources of data in Australia
The National Suicide and Self-Harm Monitoring System
The National Suicide and Self-Harm Monitoring System was launched in 2020 to improve the quality, accessibility and timeliness of data on suicide and self-harm in Australia. The Monitoring System is coordinated by the National Mental Health Commission and the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).
The AIHW also releases data from:
- The National Ambulance Surveillance System (NASS), a world-first public health monitoring system providing timely and comprehensive data on ambulance attendances in Australia
- Annual reporting on suicide among permanent, reserve and ex-serving members of the Australian Defence Force (ADF).
Australian Bureau of Statistics Causes of Death data
Each year the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) releases Causes of Death data. The latest data release includes preliminary suicide death data for the year prior and revised suicide data for the two years before.
The data are sourced from the eight state and territory Registrars of Births, Deaths and Marriages and supplemented with information from the National Coronial Information System (NCIS), including police, pathology, toxicology and coroners reports. These data are coded by the ABS according to the International Classification of Diseases (ICD) and compiled into aggregate statistics.
The statistics provided by the ABS include number of deaths by suicide, at national and state and territory levels, by sex, selected age groups, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander status. Data on risk factors and comorbid conditions co-occurring with suicide deaths are also provided.
Other sources of data
Some states compile their own suicide data in state-based registries:
- Victorian Suicide Register (VSR) - The VSR has been in operation since 2012. The Coroner’s Court of Victoria releases monthly suicide data reports.
- Queensland Suicide Register (QSR) – Maintained by the Australian Institute for Suicide Research and Prevention (AISRAP) at Griffith University.
- NSW Suicide Data Monitoring System – NSW commenced monitoring suicide data in October 2020 and releases monthly reports. The system is a collaboration between the NSW Ministry of Health, Department of Communities and Justice, the State Coroner and NSW Police.
Why is data important to the suicide prevention sector?
Timely and accurate data is essential in assisting suicide prevention efforts.
Statistics help to highlight the current level of need, identify priority population groups, determine risk factors for suicide, and monitor progress and trends. Governments and policymakers require data to make informed decisions, respond to emerging vulnerabilities and demonstrate the effectiveness of prevention efforts.
Statistics referencing suicide can also support media and communications and raise community awareness.
Life in Mind interprets suicide data as part of its work to provide Australian suicide prevention services and the community with a comprehensive online portal. Life in Mind supports coordinated, consistent messaging around suicide prevention through the National Communications Charter.