Deaths by suicide, by states and territories

Patterns of deaths by suicide between states and territories can reveal insights that may be masked by results for the whole of Australia. Variations in the rates of deaths by suicide across states and territories may help to highlight different risk factors and assist in better targeting of suicide prevention activities. For example, differences in the ratio of urban to regional and remote areas may explain some of the differences across states and territories given that the rates of suicide tend to be higher in regional and remote areas, see Suicide by remoteness areas.

Information based on the deceased’s usual state or territory of residence is available for deaths registered after 1979. Deaths by suicide may be presented by either year of death or by year of registration. Reporting by year of death can provide more reliable information on trends in occurrence than reporting by year of registration; however, the latest data available underestimates the occurrence of recent deaths due to a lag in registration, for more information, see Technical notes. Here, data based on both year of registration of death and year of occurrence of death are presented. 

Suicide deaths by states and territories, Australia, 1979 to 2022.

The line graph shows age-standardised suicide rates for each state and territory and the Australian total from 1979 to 2022. Users can choose to view age-standardised suicide rates, numbers of deaths by suicide, year-on-year change in age-standardised suicide rate and year-on-year change in numbers of deaths by suicide. Data can be viewed either by year of registration or year of death.

How do suicide rates vary across states and territories?

From 1979 to 2022, age-standardised rates of death by suicide (according to year of registration):

  • tended to be lower for New South Wales, Victoria and the Australian Capital Territory compared to the overall Australian suicide rate
  • tended to be highest in the Northern Territory. However, the Northern Territory also had one of the lowest number of deaths by suicide, when comparing all jurisdictions.

In 2022:

  • the age-standardised rate of death by suicide ranged from 10.8 per 100,000 population in New South Wales to 20.5 per 100,000 in the Northern Territory.

Age-standardised suicide rates allow for comparisons between states and territories by adjusting for differences in age structures and population size. Rates fluctuate over time—particularly in the smaller jurisdictions—due to the small number of deaths by suicide that are registered each year. Differences in coronial processes, data processing or coding practices should also be taken into consideration when comparing data across jurisdictions and over time. Caution is advised when comparing state and territory data.  

In 1979, the largest number of deaths by suicide (according to year of registration) was in:

  • New South Wales (539 deaths), followed by Victoria (462), Queensland (296), South Australia (178) and Western Australia (116). 

By 2022, the largest number of deaths by suicide was in:

  • New South Wales (911), followed by Queensland (773), Victoria (754), Western Australia (377) and South Australia (242). 

However, it should be noted that New South Wales and Victoria have the largest populations in Australia and the populations of both Queensland and Western Australia increased considerably (ABS, 2023). 

What is the effect of reporting suicide deaths by year of occurrence?

The data for age-standardised rates and number of suicide deaths are broadly similar when analysed by year of death or by year of registration. Data for the most recent years, regardless of whether by year of death or year of registration, are impacted by incomplete coronial processes. The most recent years of data by year of death, are additionally impacted by a lag between the occurrence of a death and the registration of the death. This contributes to differences seen between data reporting suicide by year of death and data reporting by year of registration.