Caution: Some people may find parts of this content confronting or distressing.
Please carefully consider your needs when reading the following information about suicide and self-harm. If this material raises concerns for you contact Lifeline on 13 11 14, or see other ways you can seek help.
The information included here places an emphasis on data, and as such, can appear to depersonalise the pain and loss behind the statistics. The AIHW acknowledges the individuals, families and communities affected by suicide each year in Australia.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander readers are advised that information relating to Indigenous suicide and self-harm is included.
The AIHW supports the use of the Mindframe guidelines on responsible, accurate and safe suicide and self-harm reporting. Please consider these guidelines when reporting on statistics on the monitoring of suicide and self-harm.
Risk factors are behaviours or aspects of lifestyle, environmental exposures or inherited characteristics that can interact to influence people’s risk of suicidal behaviours. Therefore, looking at risk factors at a population level can help target assistance.
It is important to remember that the presence of one or more of these risk factors cannot predict or explain suicide or intentional self-harm as each person’s experience is unique. Experiencing any of these risk factors does not necessarily mean a person has—or ever will—attempt suicide, but establishing whether a person has any of these risk factors can help determine whether they are at increased risk. Also, some people will have suicidal thoughts without having a history of any risk factors.
Risk factors and behaviours can be modifiable (change over time; for example, illicit drug use) or non-modifiable (permanent or constant; for example, a personal history of self-harm). They can also be background factors (such as a childhood history of abuse) or recent stressful life events. The presence of these factors and their influence is different from person to person over their lifetime and can vary by sex, culture and other characteristics.
Information on these risk factors in Australians has been obtained from a number of sources by making greater use of existing data sets or by integrating multiple data sets. This includes:
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