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 2020–22.

The line graph shows age-specific rates of intentional self-harm hospitalisations from 2012–13 to 2020–22 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.

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 2021–22:

  • the rate for the most disadvantaged areas (Quintile 1) was 122 hospitalisations per 100,000 population, which is 1.5 times the rate for the least disadvantaged areas (Quintile 5; 82 per 100,000 population).

A similar pattern was seen in suicide rates in 2021, see Suicide by socioeconomic areas.

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

From 2012–13 to 2021–22:

  • 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, averaging around 23%
  • rates for males in the lowest socioeconomic areas, Quintile 1 and 2, increased from 115 and 98 hospitalisations per 100,000 population in 2012–13 to 129 and 110 in 2016–17, respectively, before decreasing to 87 and 70 hospitalisations per 100,000 population, respectively in 2021–22
  • rates for females in the lowest (most disadvantaged) socioeconomic areas (Quintile 1) also increased from 179 in 2012–13 to 206 in 2016–17 and then decreased to 157 in 2021–22.

The highest age-specific rates of hospitalisations between 2012–13 and 2021–22 were recorded for those aged 25–44 for males and 0–24 for females, in the lowest socioeconomic areas (Quintile 1). 

  • Age-specific rates for intentional self-harm hospitalisations increased for all socioeconomic areas in females aged 0-24 from 2019–20 to 2020–21 before decreasing in 2021-22
  • rates for females aged 25–44 in Quintile 1 increased from 243 per 100,000 population in 2012–13 to 272 in 2016–17 before falling to 174 in 2021–22
  • rates for males aged 25–44 in Quintile 1 ranged from 197 in 2012–13 to 213 in 2016–17 then fell to 128 in 2021–22.

An increase in the rate of hospitalisations due to intentional self-harm for all socioeconomic areas was reported in 2016–17, 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.