Behavioural risk factor burden for suicide and self-inflicted injuries

According to the AIHW’s Australian Burden of Disease Study 2015, suicide and self-inflicted injuries was the third leading cause of premature death from injury or disease, accounting for an estimated 5.7% of the total years of life lost in Australia (AIHW, 2019). Moreover, suicide and self-inflicted injuries is the leading cause of premature death in young males and females aged 15–24 and in those aged 25–44. See Burden of disease for further information.

What is burden of disease?

Burden of disease analysis measures the impact of living with illness and injury and dying prematurely. The method uses the summary measure ‘disability-adjusted life years (or DALY) to measure the years of healthy life lost by combining premature death (years of life lost; YLL) with years lived with disability (YLD). For further information including a more comprehensive explanation of the methodology and data sources used, see Australian Burden of Disease Study: methods and supplementary material 2015.

The burden of suicide and self-inflicted injuries due to behavioural risk factors, known as attributable burden, has also been estimated in the Australian Burden of Disease Study. These estimates reflect the amount of burden that could have been avoided if all people in Australia were not exposed to the risk factor.

Burden (YLL, YLD, DALY) of suicide and self-inflicted injuries attributable to selected risk factors, by age and sex, Australia, 2003, 2011 and 2015.

The horizontal stacked bar graph shows the estimated number of disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) of suicide and self-inflicted injuries attributable to various behavioural risk factors by age and sex in Australia in 2015. Users can also choose to view the attributable years of life lost (YLL), the attributable years lived with disability (YLD), and the results of previous studies in 2003 and 2011. ‘Child abuse and neglect’ during childhood was estimated to be responsible for the greatest number of attributable DALY for suicide and self-inflicted injuries in both males and females in Australia in 2015.

 ‘Child abuse and neglect’ during childhood was:

  • consistently the leading behavioural risk factor contributing to the years of healthy life lost due to suicide and self-inflicted injuries in both males and females in 2003, 2011 and 2015
  • associated with 23% of the years of healthy life lost due to suicide and self-inflicted injuries in males (about 24,000 DALYs) and 33% of the years of healthy life lost due to suicide and self-inflicted injuries in females (about 11,000 DALYs) in 2015 with the vast majority of these years of healthy life lost due to premature death.

In males, the second and third leading risk factors contributing to the years of healthy life lost due to suicide and self-harm were ‘alcohol use’ and ‘illicit drug use’ across all years of the Australian Burden of Disease Study 2015. In 2015:

  • ‘Alcohol use’ was responsible for 17% of the years of healthy life lost due to suicide and self-inflicted injuries in males (about 17,000 DALYs)
  • ‘Illicit drug use’ was responsible for 15% (about 16,000 DALYs).

For females, the second greatest contributor to the years of healthy life lost due to suicide and self-harm was ‘intimate partner violence’ (estimated in females only) which was consistent over time (2003, 2011 and 2015).

  • ‘Intimate partner violence’ contributed 19% of the years of healthy life lost due to suicide and self-inflicted injuries in females (about 6,600 DALYs) in 2015.

Burden (YLL, YLD, DALY) of suicide and self-inflicted injuries attributable to selected risk factors, by age group and sex, Australia, 2003, 2011 and 2015.

This series of column graphs shows the same data as the previous visualisation with the data organised in a different way. The estimated number of disability-adjusted life years (DALY) of suicide and self-inflicted injuries attributable to selected behavioural risk factors is presented in males by age, in 2015. Users can also choose to view the data by sex, by attributable years of life lost (YLL), attributable years lived with disability (YLD) and by the results of previous studies in 2003 and 2011. The majority of attributable burden for each behavioural risk factor was experienced in ages 15–54, peaking at 25–34 years in males in 2015. 

In 2015, ‘Child abuse and neglect’ during childhood was the greatest contributor to the years of healthy life lost due to suicide and self-inflicted injuries in both males and females in all age groups except those aged 85 and over; however, the majority of the burden was experienced in ages 15–54, with the number of DALYs for females being fairly similar across these age groups (about 2,000–2,500 DALYs) but peaking at age 25–34 for males (6,000 DALYs).

Similarly, the majority of the years of healthy life lost due to suicide and self-inflicted injuries attributable to ‘alcohol use’ or ‘illicit drug use’ was experienced in ages 15–54, peaking at 25–34 for males and 15–24 for females.

The years of healthy life lost due to suicide and self-inflicted injuries in females that were attributable to ‘intimate partner violence’ increased with age and peaked in the 45–54 age group.

Reference

AIHW (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare) 2019. Australian Burden of Disease Study: impact and causes of illness and death in Australia 2015. Cat. no. BOD 22. Canberra: AIHW. DOI:10.25816/5ebca2a4fa7dc