Most of Australia's young people consider themselves to be in good health and are satisfied with their quality of life, according to a report released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).
Australia's Young People: Their Health and Wellbeing 2003 shows that in 2001, 94% of young Australians aged between 15-17 years and 89% of those aged between 18-24 years rated their health as 'excellent', 'very good' or 'good'.
Over 80% of young people aged 18-24 years were 'delighted', pleased' or 'mostly satisfied' with their quality of life. Only 4% saw their lives as 'unsatisfactory', 'unhappy' or 'terrible'.
Completion of schooling and employment status seemed to influence self-assessed health: a higher proportion of young people who had completed Year 12, or were employed, rated their health as 'excellent' or 'very good'.
The Year 12 completion rate was about 67%, with a higher proportion of females completing Year 12 (74%) than males (61%).
The report found that death rates for both males and females aged 12-24 years fell considerably between 1982 and 2001-by 43% for males (from 120 to 68 per 100,0000) and by 34% for females (from 38 to 25 per 100,000).
Transport accident deaths in young people of both sexes decreased by 62% between 1982 and 2001, from 41 to 15 deaths per 100,000 young people.
The suicide rate for young people-which had been increasing in Australia-reached a peak in 1997 with a rate of 15 deaths per 100,000 young people. From 1997, however, the death rate from suicide decreased to 10 deaths per 100,000 young people in 2001.
Report co-author Dr Fadwa Al-Yaman said, however, that injury and poisoning were still the major killers of young people: 'Over 70% of their deaths in 2001 were a result of these causes. Of the injury and poisoning deaths, 46% (534 deaths) were from transport accidents, and 30% (349 deaths) were from suicide'.
The report shows that males aged 12-24 years died from suicide at around 4 to 5 times the rate of females. However, females aged 12-24 years were hospitalised for intentional self-harm at twice the rate of males.
Dr Al-Yaman said that 54% of young people aged 18-24 years in 2001 exhibited low levels of psychological distress, as measured by the Kessler 10 scale. Less than 3% of males and 6% of females were found to have very high levels of psychological distress.
Other findings from the report include:
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