Suicide in Australia
In 2016, the suicide rate in Australia was 11.7 deaths per 100,000 people, up from 10.6 per 100,000 people in 2007. 2,866 people died from suicide in Australia in 2016. The World Health Organization reported the rate of suicide in Australia at 10.4 per 100,000 people per year (age standardised). 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.
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.
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. The suicide rates for children younger than 15 years is estimated to have increased by 92% between the 1960s to 1990s. Suicide rates are generally higher amongst males, rural and regional dwellers, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. 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."
For a death to be considered a suicide and counted as such in Australian statistics, three criteria need to be met:
- The death must be due to unnatural causes, such as injury, poisoning or suffocation rather than an illness
- The actions which result in death must be self-inflicted
- The person who injures himself or herself must have had the intention to die
Lifeline Australia- 13 11 14Menslink – 02 6287 2226
National suicide prevention strategy provides the platform for Australia's national policy on suicide prevention with an emphasis on promotion, prevention and early intervention. The main objectives of the strategy are:
- Build individual resilience and the capacity for self-help
- Improve community strength, resilience and capacity in suicide prevention
- Providing targeted suicide prevention activities
- Implement standards and quality in suicide prevention
- Take a coordinated approach to suicide prevention
- Improve the evidence base and understanding of suicide prevention
Beyond Blue is a major organisation that is set up in Australia by Federal, state and territory governments to help with mental health issues as well as helping people deal with issues such as suicide.
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. 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.
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.
There is a strong correlation between alcohol (as well as other drugs) and suicide in Australian young adults. Between 30-50% of suicides, detectable substances are found during post-mortem coronal investigations, with alcohol being the most common.
The rate of suicide in Australian adolescents, has gradually decreased, and 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.
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. 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.
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.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics has kept data on suicide rates since 1881. 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.:1
List of notable cases
- In 1952, politician James Vinton Smith committed suicide by firearm.
- In 1991, John Friedrich committed suicide by firearm.
- 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. Kristy Corbett was investigated for her culpability but no charges were ever laid against her.
- In 2007, Charmaine Dragun, an Australian television newsreader, jumped off The Gap, an oceanside cliff.
- In 2014, Charlotte Dawson, an Australian TV presenter, committed suicide by hanging.
- Sveticic, Jerneja (2009). Suicide research : selected readings. Queensland: Australian Academic Press. ISBN 9781922117182.
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- "Suicide rates, age standardized – Data by country". World Health Organization. 2015. Archived from the original on 14 April 2017. Retrieved 13 April 2017.
- "A framework for prevention of suicide in Australia" (PDF). www.livingisforeveryone.com.au. Australian Government. Archived from the original (PDF) on 4 March 2016.
- Australian Institute for Suicide Research and Prevention, Australian Institute for Suicide Research and Prevention, 2011, archived from the original on 10 March 2012
- Trends and predictors of suicide in Australian children, Australian Institute for Suicide Research and Prevention, 2011, archived from the original on 19 February 2012
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- 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.
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- Facts and Statistics, Mindframe National Media Initiative, 2011, archived from the original on 28 July 2011
- Burns, Richard A. (2016-11-30). "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.
- Alston, Margaret (2012). "Rural male suicide in Australia". Social Science & Medicine. 74: 515–522. doi:10.1016/j.socscimed.2010.04.036.
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- 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: 151. doi:10.1017/S1474746406003423.
- Madden, Richard (1994). "Suicides, Australia: 1982-1992" (PDF). Australian Bureau of Statistics. Retrieved 20 November 2015.
- "VINTON SMITH FOUND DEAD". The Argus. Melbourne. 23 July 1952. p. 5. Retrieved 29 May 2012 – via National Library of Australia.
- "Twenty years on". www.abc.net.au. 6 April 2009. Archived from the original on 25 December 2017. Retrieved 26 December 2017.
- Sveticic 2009, p. 108
- "News reader found dead". The Australian. November 2, 2007. Retrieved 2015-04-13.
- "Australian TV personality Charlotte Dawson commits suicide". fox411. 23 February 2014. Archived from the original on 19 February 2015. Retrieved 13 April 2015.
- Australian Bureau of Statistics Suicides, Australia, 2005