Data sources

The sources used here are as follows:

  • National Mortality Database (NMD). Cause of Death Unit Record File data are provided to the AIHW by the Registries of Births, Deaths and Marriages and the National Coronial Information System (managed by the Victorian Department of Justice) and include cause of death coded by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). The data are maintained by the AIHW in the NMD.

    Analysis in this report is based on year of occurrence of death. Year of death is an underestimate for the last year of data (2017), as some deaths are not registered until later years. Historical analysis of the NMD shows between 4% and 7% of deaths are not registered until the following year or later (ABS 2018). At the time of analysis, the causes of death data were final for 2014, revised for 2015 and preliminary for 2016 and 2017. Cause of death for a small number of deaths occurring in 2015, 2016 and 2017 are subject to further revision by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

    In this study, the NMD is used in the calculation of Australian crude rates and SMRs, and is the same source of information on cause of death as used in the NDI.

  • National Death Index (NDI). The NDI is managed by the AIHW and contains person-level records of all deaths in Australia since 1980 obtained from the Registrars of Births, Deaths and Marriage in each state and territory. Its use is confined to data linkage studies approved by the AIHW Ethics Committee for health and medical research. NDI records are supplemented with cause of death information from the NMD (AIHW 2018).

    In this study, the NDI is used in linkage with the Personnel Management Key Solution (PMKeyS) and Defence Suicide Database (DSD) to create the linked PMKeyS–NDI data set used in analysis of suicide in the ADF population.

  • Personnel Management Key Solution (PMKeyS). PMKeyS is a Defence staff and payroll management system that contains information on all people with Australian Defence Force (ADF) service on or after 1 January 2001 (when the system was introduced). This database contains demographic and service information at a given point in time and is linked to the NDI to identify deaths, including suicides, in the three ADF service status groups.

  • Defence Suicide Database (DSD). The DSD is maintained by Defence and contains information on suspected and confirmed deaths due to suicide of personnel serving full time since 1 January 2000. Suspected and confirmed suicides are included in the database only on the advice of the ADF Investigative Service. Cases are confirmed by receipt of a coronial finding of suicide. This database is linked to the PMKeyS and NDI and records with a status of ‘confirmed’ are used to supplement cause of death information from the NDI for numbers of suicides only.


  • ABS (Australian Bureau of Statistics) 2018. Causes of death, Australia, 2017. Explanatory notes. ABS cat. no. 3303.0. Canberra: ABS. Viewed 11 June 2019.
  • AIHW (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare) 2018. Canberra: AIHW. About National Death Index. Viewed 18 June 2019.
  • Curtin, L. R., & Klein, R. J. (1995). Direct standardization (age-adjusted death rates) (No. 6). Hyattsville, MD: US Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics.