International estimates of death by intentional self-harm

Global statistics on suicide provide a broad view of the issue across the world and provide a means of evaluation to allow governments, policy makers and researchers to learn from each other to improve suicide prevention planning and decision making. The intent in providing this information is to contribute to an informed, open debate about ways to prevent suicide in Australia—not to create comparisons ranking suicide rates around the world.  

These data are estimates based on modelling assumptions from the most recent update to the Global Burden of Disease Study (GBD 2019) and are sourced from the Global Health Data Exchange (GHDx), a data catalogue created and supported by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME). For further information see Global Health Data Exchange and IHME Global burden of disease.

The interactive data visualisation below allows you to view the most recent data (rates of suicide and years of life lost) from Australia, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) member countries, G20 nations (19 member nations plus the remaining 24 European Union nations individually represented) and World Health Organization regions. You can view data for any country or region using the ‘multiple values’ selector.

Deaths due to deliberate self-harm by region, 1990 to 2019.

This line graph shows the self-harm measures from 1990–2020, in OECD countries, G20 countries and WHO regions. Users can filter the graph in various ways, including viewing the age-standardised rate or Years of Life Lost (YLL) due to deliberate self-harm, viewing the latest year of data only and filtering by age groups and sex. Users can also compare Australia to OECD countries, G20 countries and WHO regions. Overall, Australia tracks slightly above the averages of OECD countries, G20 countries and WHO regions in 2020. The average age-standardised suicide rate has declined steadily in OECD countries, G20 countries and WHO regions.

Data are presented as deaths or years of life lost due to death by intentional self-harm. The terms self-harm and suicide are used interchangeably. It should be noted that this terminology is different to that used in other sections of the Suicide & self-harm monitoring website, where the term self-harm refers to non-fatal injury rather than death. The ICD-10 codes used here include: X60-X64.9, X66-X84.9, Y87.0 which are slightly different to those reported in other sections of Suicide & self-harm monitoring.

International rates of deaths due to self-harm should be interpreted with caution as the quality of mortality data can vary between countries and there is a lack of consistency in methods of death registration. Also, due to stigma associated with suicide—and the fact that it is illegal in some countries—some countries are likely to underestimate suicide rates and this may bring into question the reliability of suicide-related statistics (particularly in countries with low reported suicide rates).

Overall, there has been a reduction in suicide rates since 1990 driven mostly by declines in Europe and South East Asia. Across other regions, suicide rates have remained relatively stable.

Suicide rates by country

Of OECD nations in 2019, age-standardised suicide rates ranged from 2.8 per 100,000 in Turkey to 23.9 per 100,000 in Lithuania. Australia’s 2019 estimated suicide rate (10.4 per 100,000 population) was in the middle of OECD countries (18 of 36) and was similar to those reported in Canada, Czech Republic, New Zealand, and Sweden. The suicide rates in Austria and the United States were higher at 11.3 and 11.7 per 100,000 of the population respectively. Suicide rates have been rising in the United States prior to 2020 (see Deaths of despair). 

Similarly, in comparison with G20 nations in 2019, Australia was 23 of 43 (19 members nations plus remaining 24 European Union nations individually represented).

Suicide is more common in males than females in all countries

Suicide rates for males and females can be explored for any country or region on the interactive visualisations by selecting the drop down options for sex.

In 2019, in OECD countries, rates for males varied from 4.4 per 100,000 in Turkey to 42.2 in Lithuania, while female suicide rates ranged from 1.3 per 100,000 in Greece to 11.8 in the Republic of Korea. Again, Australia was in between with suicide rates of 16.2 per 100,000 for males and 4.8 per 100,000 for females.

Suicide rates by age

Suicide is one of the leading causes of death in young people in Australia; however, this does not necessarily mean suicide is more likely to occur in young people than in older age groups—it is largely a reflection of the fact that older Australians also die from many other causes.