Intentional self-harm hospitalisations by socioeconomic areas

Hospitalisations data for patients with intentional self-harm injuries includes those with and without suicidal intent. For further information refer to the Technical notes.

Socioeconomic status classifies individuals according to the socioeconomic characteristics of the area in which they live. These areas are defined using the ABS Index of Relative Socio-Economic Disadvantage (IRSD), which reflects the average level of socioeconomic disadvantage of the area (see Technical notes for more information).

Intentional self-harm hospitalisations, by age, sex and socioeconomic areas, Australia, 2012–13 to 2018–19.

The line graph shows age-specific rates of intentional self-harm hospitalisations from 2012–13 to 2018–19 by socioeconomic areas from Quintile 1, the most disadvantaged, to Quintile 5, the least disadvantaged. Users can also choose to view age-specific rates, numbers and proportion of hospitalisations for intentional self-harm by socioeconomic areas by sex and specific age groups. For the period 2012–13 to 2018–19, rates of intentional self-harm hospitalisations were highest in the most disadvantaged areas (Quintile 1) with the lowest rates in the least disadvantaged areas (Quintile 5). Rates varied across the period for all Quintiles. All Quintiles, except Quintile 5, recorded lower rates in 2018–19 than in 2012–13. 

Does socioeconomic status affect risk of intentional self-harm?

Rates of hospitalisations for intentional self-harm tend to be higher for those living in lower socioeconomic (more disadvantaged) areas.

In 2018–19:

  • the rate for the most disadvantaged areas (Quintile 1) was 142 hospitalisations per 100,000 population, which is 1.6 times higher than the rate for the least disadvantaged areas (Quintile 5; 89 per 100,000 population).

A similar pattern was seen in suicide rates in 2018, see Suicide by socioeconomic areas.

How have rates of intentional self-harm hospitalisations changed for socioeconomic areas?

From 2012–13 to 2018–19:

  • the highest proportion of intentional self-harm hospitalisations was for people living in the lowest socioeconomic (most disadvantaged) areas; this proportion has remained relatively stable over the period at around 25%
  • rates for males in the lowest socioeconomic areas, Quintile 1 and 2, decreased over this period; Quintile 1 from 116 hospitalisations per 100,000 population in 2012–13 to 108 in 2018–19 and Quintile 2 from 99 in 2012–13 to 91 in 2018–19
  • rates for females in lower (most disadvantaged) socioeconomic areas also decreased during this period, with an increase reported in Quintile 5 (most advantaged) only (106 per 100,000 population in 2012–13 rising to 119 in 2018–19).

In contrast, age-standardised suicide rates increased in the lowest socioeconomic areas between 2010 and 2018, for both males (from 20 to 25 deaths per 100,000 population, respectively) and females (from 5.8 to 7.0 deaths per 100,000 population, respectively). See Suicide by socioeconomic areas.

For both males and females, the highest age-specific rates of hospitalisations between 2012–13 and 2018–19 were recorded for those aged 25–44 in the lowest socioeconomic areas (Quintile 1), with the highest age-specific rates recorded for females in this age group.

  • Rates for females aged 25–44 in Quintile 1 increased from 245 per 100,000 population in 2012–13 to 274 in 2015–16 before falling to 239 in 2018–19.
  • Rates for males aged 25–44 in Quintile 1 fluctuated from 199 in 2012–13 to 214 in 2016–17 then fell to 170 in 2018–19.

An increase in the rate of hospitalisations due to intentional self-harm for all socioeconomic areas was reported in 2016–17 before decreasing in 2017–18, which may be due to increases in hospitalisations in 3 states. Variation in hospital admission policy and practices between states and territories may have contributed to differences in the reporting of hospitalisation data. For further information, see the data quality statement.