Suicide and falls push up injury death rate

Australia's injury death rate has risen for the first time in 5 years, pushed up by increases in suicide and falls, according to a recent study by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.

The study, published today in the Institute's Australian Injury Prevention Bulletin, found that 7,189 people died from injury in 1994, up 1% on the previous year.

Director of the Institute's National Injury Surveillance Unit, Dr James Harrison, said that the rise was 'primarily due to a 4% upturn in the female injury rate-the male injury rate actually went down, but by less than 1%'.

'Injury death rates are still much higher for men than for women, however, by almost 3 to 1, with the absolute highest rates among young men and the elderly.'

The study found that suicide rates increased by 7% for both men and women between 1993 and 1994, and remained particularly high among men aged 15 to 29.

Also on the increase were death rates from falls among elderly people, with the rate rising by 17% over this period.

Dr Harrison also noted that the the road injury death rate fell by just 1% from 1993: 'The large drops of recent years have slowed, and indeed, data for 1995 and early 1996 from the Federal Office of Road Safety show no further decline in road deaths'.

Other findings in the report include:

  • Injury death rates were higher in the Northern Territory than in other States, reflecting relatively high rates in non-urban rural and remote areas, and among the Aboriginal population.
  • Drowning and transport deaths predominate in early childhood; transport deaths predominate in later childhood and early adulthood; suicide and transport deaths predominate in adulthood; and falls predominate in old age.

18 October 1996


Further information: Dr James Harrison, NISU Director, ph. 08 8374 0970, or John Dolinis, NISU Senior Research Officer, ph. 08 8374 0970.
For media copies of the bulletin and general media inquiries: Nigel Harding, AIHW Communication and Public Affairs Head, ph. 02 6244 1025 or 014 68 8834 (mobile).
Availability: Check the AIHW Publications Catalogue for details.