Suicide and road accidents top the list again for injury deaths

Suicide and fatalities from road accidents were the main causes of injury death in Australia in 2002, according to a report released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).

Injury Deaths, Australia 2002 shows that 5,271 males and 2,549 females died from injuries they sustained in 2002, with suicide accounting for 2,320 deaths and transport-related fatalities numbering 1,907.

Report author Renate Kreisfeld, from the AIHW's National Injury and Surveillance Unit, said that although suicide topped the list at 30% of all injury deaths, the numbers are continuing to fall.

'The male suicide rate in 2002 was the lowest since 1985, and was 20% lower than in 1997. The much lower female rates, though, have changed very little in recent years.

'Suicide rates for the States and Territories were fairly similar, with the ACT lower, and Tasmania and the Northern Territory higher, than the national rate of 11.8 deaths per 100,000 population.'

Forty-five per cent of suicide fatalities involved hanging, strangulation or suffocation, followed by poisoning (31%) and the use of a firearm (9%).

Transport-related deaths also declined slightly, accounting for 24% of all injury deaths.

'Males outnumbered females by nearly 3 to 1 for the 1,907 transport-related deaths,' Ms Kreisfeld said.

'Most transport-related deaths (1,666 out of 1,907) resulted from on-road collisions involving a motor vehicle. As in previous years, males aged 15-29, and males aged 80 years and over, had the highest rates of motor vehicle deaths. But in the 80+ age group there was a notable rise in the number of female deaths and a fall in the number of male deaths between 2000 and 2002.'

A total of 1,517 people died as a result of an accidental falls (19% of total injury deaths). Fall rates were concentrated in the older age groups, and were particularly high among both males and females aged 85 years and older.

There were 232 deaths from accidental drowning in 2002. Of these, 42 were children under five years, 20 of whom drowned in a swimming pool. Three times as many men as women drowned in 2002.

Other findings in the report include:

  • Injury was the cause of half of all deaths recorded for people between the ages of 1 and 44 years in 2002.
  • Young adults in the 20-39 years age range accounted for one-third of all injury deaths.
  • The Northern Territory had a considerably higher rate of injury deaths than any other State or Territory, mostly due to a higher rate of transport-related injury.

17 December 2004


Further information: Renate Kreisfeld, AIHW National Injury Surveillance Unit, tel. 08 8201 7624.
For media copies of the report: Publications Officer, AIHW, tel. 02 6244 1032.