Australian Institute of Health and Welfare new data release

Posted 4th November 2021 in General

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare has today released a report on The health impact of suicide and self-inflicted injuries in Australia, 2019.

This report updates and extends data from the Australian Burden of Disease Study in 2018. It looks at the combined impact of living with illness and injury and dying prematurely from suicide and self-inflicted injuries.

Today’s data reveals that Australians collectively lost 145,703 years of healthy life in 2019 due to suicide and self-inflicted injury, with 99% of the years lost due to premature death.

Significantly, this data included four potentially modifiable risk factors that have sufficient causal association with suicide, and found that these risk factors contributed to almost half of all suicide and self-inflicted injuries in 2019. A deeper understanding of the intersection of the risk factors and suicidality enables better informed policy, resourcing and service delivery decision making, and highlights the importance of a whole of government approach to prevent suicide and distress.

In making this data available, Australia is stepping up in its work towards zero suicide. It is important to remember that each data point represents the life of a person either lost to suicide or who is living with the impact of suicidal ideation. Everymind and the National Mental Health Commission acknowledge the experience of distress and each life that has been lost. By increasing our understanding of data alongside the experience of distress, we increase our ability to intervene earlier in distress and save lives.

For further information on the data released today visit the AIHW website.

Tips for safely communicating about suicide data:

Media, communications professionals and people in the suicide prevention sector are reminded to be responsible and accurate when communicating about suicide and suicide attempt data.

  • Remember that data does not show the full impact of suicidal behaviour
  • Be mindful of the impact that frequent and prolonged reporting on suicide data and suicide deaths may have on the community
  • Report on rates, as opposed to numbers alone. Caution should be taken when comparing across time periods or groups and you should seek advice on interpretation of data
  • Avoid simplistic explanations for why a person has died by suicide, by ensuring risk factors are reported in their broader context and not attributing the death to a singular cause or risk factor
  • Use correct terminology when reporting on suicide data and person-centred and strengths-based language that is non-stigmatising
  • Seek expert opinion to provide context and perspective – including the perspectives of people with a lived experience of suicide
  • Remove or minimise details about the method or location of suicide and remember to promote help seeking information

For more guidance on communicating safely on suicide and self-harm, visit the Mindframe website