When interpreting or using suicide data it is important to remember that behind the numbers are people, families and communities impacted by suicide in Australia.
The reasons people take their own life are complex and often there is no single reason why a person attempts or dies by suicide.
Suicide data 2018 – ABS (released 2019)
- In 2018, preliminary data showed a total of 3,046 deaths by suicide (age-specific suicide rate 12.2 per 100,000).
- In comparison, a total of 2017 there was a recorded 3,128 deaths (age-specific suicide rate of 12.7 per 100,000).
- In 2018, preliminary data showed an average of 8.3 deaths by suicide in Australia each day (Mindframe, 2019).
- Of all causes of death, 1.9% was attributed to suicide in 2018.
Summary of suicide data by age and gender
- The rate of suicide among males is more than three times greater than that for females. In 2018, the age-specific rate for males 18.7 per 100,000 (2,320 deaths by suicide) and female 5.8 per 100,000 (726 deaths by suicide).
- Suicide is the tenth leading cause of death for males and the 23rd leading cause for females.
- The highest proportion of suicide deaths occur among young and middle aged people, while the proportion decreases in progressively older age cohorts. More than half of all suicide deaths in 2018 (54.8%) occurred between the ages 30 and 59.
- In 2018, suicide accounted for over one-third of deaths (38.4%) among people 15-24 years of age and 29.4% of deaths among people 25-34 years of age. In 2018, there were 105,730 years of life lost to suicide. On average, a person who died by suicide in 2018 lost 36.7 years of life.
Summary of suicide data by State and Territory
- All states and territories except New South Wales recorded decreases in the number of registered deaths due to suicide from 2017 to 2018
- 899people died by suicide in NSW (684 male, 215 female), which is an increase on the 880 recorded in 2017.
- The number of suicide deaths was highest in NSW (899), followed by QLD (786), and VIC (593).
- NSW accounted for 29.5% of all deaths by suicide in Australia.
- Suicide rates in Australia peaked in 1963 (17.5 per 100,000), declining to 11.3 per 100,000 in 1984, and climbing back to 14.6 in 1997. Rates have been lower since 1997. The age-specific suicide rate for persons in 2018 was 12.2 per 100,000.
- Using the ‘Years of Potential Life Lost’ (YPLL) measure, suicide was estimated to account for 80,170 potential years lost in males, 25,429 years in females, and 105,580 potential years of life lost for all persons in 2018.
- For the 2018 preliminary data, ABS identified an administrative issue for Victorian data of which the 2018 preliminary data may not reflect final data figures for Victoria. Please take caution when reporting ABS state and territory figures.
- For those of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander suicide data Suicide prevention for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities
Suicide and age
- Overall, the age-specific suicide rate in 2018 was highest in men aged 85 or above (32.9 per 100,000), which has been the age group with the highest rate since 2011.
- For females, 2018 data showed that the highest age-specific suicide rate was observed in the 40-44 age group (9.4 per 100,000).
- Data shows that the largest age-specific increase was within males aged 45-54 years for 2018, with 431 deaths (age-specific rate 27.5 per 100,000) compared to 424 deaths (age-specific rate 27.2 per 100,000) in 2017.
- The largest age-specific increase for females was within the 35-44 years age group with 137 deaths (age-specific rate 8.3 per 100,000) in 2018 compared to 126 deaths (age-specific rate 7.7 per 100,000) in 2017.
- For males: The highest age-specific suicide rate in 2018 was observed in the 85+ age group (32.9 per 100,000). This rate was higher than the age-specific suicide rate observed in all other age groups, with the next highest age-specific suicide rates being in the 45-49 and 55-59 year age groups (28.1 and 27.6 per 100,000 respectively).
- For females: The highest age-specific suicide rate in 2018 was observed in the 80-84 age group (9.0 per 100,000), followed by the 35-39 and 40-44 age groups (7.2 and 9.4 per 100,000 respectively).
Children and youth suicide data
- In 2018, males under aged 0-14 had the lowest suicide rate (0.5 per 100,000) of all males, with 12 deaths. Males aged 15-19 years had the fourth lowest rate of male suicide with 132 deaths (17.3 per 100,000). There was an increase of 26 deaths by suicide for males aged 15-19 compared to 2017 data.
- In 2018, females aged 0-14 years had the lowest suicide rate (0.4 per 100,000) with 10 deaths. Females aged 15-19 years had the sixth highest rate of female suicide with 52 deaths (7.2 per 100,000). There was an increase of 2 deaths by suicide for females aged 15-19 compared to 2017 data.
- Considering all causes of death in males for 2018, suicide accounted for 1.5% of all deaths among 0-14 year old males, 43.4% of deaths among 15-19 year old males and 39.8% of deaths among 20-24 year old males in 2018.
- Considering all causes of death in females for 2018, suicide accounted for 1.7% of deaths among 0-14 year old females, 34% of deaths among 15-19 year old females and 29.3% of deaths among 20-24 year old females in 2018.
- Youth suicide over the decades: During the mid-1980s, suicide rates for 15-19 year old males rose rapidly and peaked at 21.0 per 100,000 in 1988. During the 1990s, suicide rates for 15-19 year old males fluctuated around 17-19 per 100,000 for this group with a peak of 19.0 per 100,000 in 1991. These rates have gradually declined since the 1990s, having fluctuated between 10-15 per 100,000 within this age group for the past 10 years. The suicide rates for females aged 15-19 also fluctuate, with a high in 2012 (8.3 per 100,000) and were lowest in 2008 (3.6 per 100,000).
Data on this webpage has been updated to reflect the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) Catalogue 3303.0 Cause of Death Australia, 2018 released in September 2019.
Australian Bureau of Statistics. (2000). Suicides, Australia, 1921 to 1998. Catalogue No. 3309.0.Belconnen, ACT: Commonwealth of Australia. Accessed December 4, 2012
Australian Bureau of Statistics. (2012). Suicides, Australia, 2010. Catalogue No. 3309.0 Belconnen, ACT: Commonwealth of Australia. Accessed March 24, 2014