Caution: Some people may find parts of this content confronting or distressing.
Please carefully consider your needs when reading the following information about suicide and self-harm. If this material raises concerns for you contact Lifeline on 13 11 14, or see other ways you can seek help.
The information included here places an emphasis on data, and as such, can appear to depersonalise the pain and loss behind the statistics. The AIHW acknowledges the individuals, families and communities affected by suicide each year in Australia.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander readers are advised that information relating to Indigenous suicide and self-harm is included.
The AIHW supports the use of the Mindframe guidelines on responsible, accurate and safe suicide and self-harm reporting. Please consider these guidelines when reporting on statistics on the monitoring of suicide and self-harm.
Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander: A person of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander descent who identifies as an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander. See also Indigenous.
additional diagnosis: The diagnosis of a condition or recording of a complaint—either coexisting with the principal diagnosis or arising during an episode of admitted patient care (hospitalisation)—that requires the provision of care. Multiple diagnoses may be recorded.
ADF personnel: Serving, reserve and ex-serving members of the Australian Defence Force; civilian personnel employed by the Department of Defence are excluded.
admission: An admission to hospital. The term hospitalisation is used to describe an episode of hospital care that starts with the formal admission process and ends with the formal separation process.
administrative data collection: A data set that results from the information collected for the purposes of delivering a service or paying the provider of the service. This type of collection is usually complete (all in-scope events are collected), but it may have limitations for population-level analysis because the data are collected primarily for an administrative purpose.
age structure: The relative number of people in each age group in a population.
age-specific rate: The number of events for a specified age group over a specified period (e.g. calendar or financial year), divided by the total population in that age group. Reported as number per 100,000. The numerator and denominator relate to the same age group.
age-standardised rates: are incidence rates that enable comparisons to be made between populations that have different age structures. The age structures of the different populations are converted to the same 'standard' structure, and then the rates that would have occurred with that structure are calculated and compared. Rates are expressed as per 100,000 per population years.
associated cause(s) of death: All causes of death listed on the death certificate, other than the underlying cause of death. They include the immediate cause, any intervening causes, and conditions which contributed to the death but were not related to the disease or condition causing the death.
attributable burden: The disease burden attributed to a particular risk factor. It is the amount of burden that could be avoided if the risk factor were removed or reduced to the lowest possible exposure.
Australian Statistical Geography Standard (ASGS): Common framework defined by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) for collecting and disseminating geographically classified statistics. It replaced the Australian Standard Geographical Classification (ASGC) in July 2011.
burden of disease: The quantified impact of a disease, injury or risk factor on a population, using the disability-adjusted life year (DALY) measure. One DALY is one year of 'healthy life' lost due to illness and/or death. The more DALY associated with a disease or injury, the greater the burden. The DALY is produced by combining the non-fatal and fatal burden together. People generally experience more burden as they age.
cause(s) of death: All diseases, morbid conditions or injuries that either resulted in or contributed to death—and the circumstances that produced any such injuries—that are entered on the death certificate. The coding of causes of death produces an underlying cause of death and, for many deaths, one or more associated cause(s) of death. See also multiple causes of death.
child: A person aged 0–14 years.
comorbidity: The occurrence of 2 or more health conditions in a person at one time. While the coexistence of these multiple conditions may be unrelated, in many instances there is some association between them.
confidence interval: A statistical term describing a range (interval) of values within which we can be ‘confident’ that the true value lies, usually because it has a 95% or higher chance of doing so.
contemporary ex-serving (Australian Defence Force): Australian Defence Force members who have had at least 1 day of full-time or reserve service on or after 1 January 2001, and have since been discharged from the Australian Defence Force.
current serving (Australian Defence Force): Australian Defence Force members who have had at least 1 day of full-time service on or after 1 January 2001, and are still serving in the Australian Defence Force.
crude rate: The crude rate is the number of events recorded during a specified time period (e.g. calendar year) per 100,000 estimated resident population.
DALY: See disability-adjusted life year.
data linkage: The process of combining (linking) information from two or more different data sources that are believed to relate to the same entity (for example, the same individual or the same institution). This linkage can yield more information about the entity and, in certain cases, provide a time sequence—helping to ‘tell a story’, show ‘pathways’ and perhaps unravel cause and effect. The term is used synonymously with ‘record matching and ‘data integration’.
death: Any death which occurs in, or en route to Australia and is registered with a State or Territory Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages.
determinant: Any factor that influences how likely a population or individual will stay healthy or become ill or injured. Factors that increase the chances of ill health are known as risk factors, while those that promote good health are protective factors. Services or other programs that aim to improve health are usually not included in this definition.
disability-adjusted life year (DALY): A measure of healthy life lost, either through premature death or living with disability due to illness or injury. It is the basic unit used in burden of disease and injury estimates.
episode of care: The period of admitted patient care between a formal or statistical admission and a formal or statistical separation, characterised by only one care type (see care type and separation).
estimated resident population (ERP): The official ABS estimate of the Australian population. The ERP is derived from the 5-yearly Census counts and is updated quarterly between each Census. It is based on the usual residence of the person. Rates are calculated per 1,000 or 100,000 mid-year (30 June) ERP.
external cause:The environmental event, circumstance, or condition that is regarded as the cause of injury, poisoning and other adverse effect.
fatal burden: The quantified impact on a population of dying prematurely due to disease or injury, measured by years of life lost (YLL).
hospitalisation: An episode of admitted patient care, which can be a total hospital stay (from admission to discharge, transfer or death) or a portion of a hospital stay beginning or ending in a change of type of care (e.g. from acute care to rehabilitation).
incidence: Incidence is a measure of the number of new cases of a characteristic that develop in a population in a specified time period; whereas prevalence is the proportion of a population who have a specific characteristic in a given time period, regardless of when they first developed the characteristic.
incidence rates: incidence rates for death by suicide refers to the number of suicides during a specified period over the population within the same period. Rates are expressed as per 100,000 per population years.
Index of Relative Socioeconomic Disadvantage (IRSD): One of the set of Socio-Economic Indexes for Areas (SEIFA) for ranking the average socioeconomic conditions of a population in a geographic area. The IRSD was developed by the ABS for use at Statistical Area Level 2 and summarises attributes of the population that indicate disadvantage, such as low income, low educational attainment, high unemployment and jobs in relatively unskilled occupations.
Indigenous: A person of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander descent who identifies as an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander. See also Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander.
intentional self-harm: Includes attempts to suicide, as well as cases where people have intentionally hurt themselves, but not necessarily with the intention of suicide (e.g. acts of self-mutilation).
International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (ICD): The World Health Organization’s internationally accepted classification of death and disease. The 10th Revision (ICD-10) is currently in use. The ICD-10-AM is the Australian Modification of the ICD-10; it is used for diagnoses and procedures recorded for patients admitted to hospitals.
monitoring (of public health): A process of keeping a regular and close watch over important aspects of the public’s health and health services through various measurements, and then regularly reporting on the situation, so that the health system and society more generally can plan and respond accordingly. The term is often used interchangeably with surveillance, although surveillance may imply more urgent watching and reporting, such as the surveillance of infectious diseases and their epidemics.
morbidity: The ill health of an individual and levels of ill health in a population or group.
mortality: Number or rate of deaths in a population during a given time period.
multiple causes of death: All causes listed on the death certificate. This includes the underlying cause of death and all associated causes of death. This information is useful for describing the role of all diseases involved in deaths, where there is more than one cause contributing to the death. For deaths where the underlying cause was identified as an external cause multiple causes include circumstances of injury, the nature of injury as well as any other conditions reported on the death certificate.
non-fatal burden: The quantified impact on a population of ill health due to disease or injury, measured as years lived with disability (YLD).
non-Indigenous: People who have declared that they are not of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander descent.
prevalence: The number or proportion (of cases, instances, and so forth) in a population at a given time.
prevention (of suicide): Action to reduce or eliminate the onset, causes, complications or recurrence of suicide.
Primary Health Networks (PHNs): Primary Health Networks were established on 1 July 2015 by the Australian Government Department of Health. They are independent primary health care organisations that commission services and are operated by not-for-profit companies, informed by clinical councils and community advisory committees.
Primary Health Network (PHN) areas: PHNs connect health services across a specific geographic area (a PHN area), with the boundaries defined by the Australian Government Department of Health. There are 31 PHN areas that cover the whole of Australia.
principal diagnosis: The diagnosis established after study to be chiefly responsible for occasioning an episode of admitted patient care (hospitalisation). Diagnoses are recorded using the relevant edition of the International statistical classification of diseases and related health problems, 10th revision, Australian modification (ICD-10-AM).
protective factors: Factors that enhance the likelihood of positive outcomes and reduce the chance of negative consequences from exposure to risk.
psychological distress: Psychological distress is commonly measured using the Kessler Psychological Distress Scale—10 items (K10). The K10 questionnaire was developed to yield a global measure of psychosocial distress, based on questions about people’s level of nervousness, agitation, psychological fatigue and depression in the past four weeks. The Kessler 6 Scale is an abbreviated version of K10.
psychosocial factors: Social processes and social structures which can have an interaction with individual thought, behaviour and/or health outcomes.
public health: Activities aimed at benefiting a population, with an emphasis on prevention, protection and health promotion as distinct from treatment tailored to individuals.
quintile: A group derived by ranking the population or area according to specified criteria and dividing it into five equal parts. Commonly used to describe socioeconomic areas.
rate: A rate is one number (the numerator) divided by another number (the denominator). The numerator is commonly the number of events in a specified time. The denominator is the population ‘at risk’ of the event. Rates (crude, age-specific and age-standardised) are generally multiplied by a number such as 100,000 to create whole numbers.
remoteness area: A classification of the remoteness of a location using the Australian Statistical Geography Standard Remoteness Area Structure (2016) which divides Australia into 5 classes of remoteness based on their relative access to services using the Accessibility and Remoteness Index of Australia which is, in turn, derived by measuring the road distance of a location from the nearest urban centre. The 5 Remoteness Areas are Major cities, Inner regional, Outer regional, Remote and Very remote.
reserve (Australian Defence Force): Australian Defence Force members who have had at least 1 day of reserve service on or after 1 January 2001.
risk factor: Any attributes, characteristics or exposures that increase the likelihood of a person developing a health condition or experiencing an event.
separation (from hospital): An episode of care for an admitted patient, which can be a total hospital stay (from admission to discharge, transfer or death) or a portion of a hospital stay beginning or ending in a change of type of care (for example, from acute care to rehabilitation). Separation also means the process by which an admitted patient completes an episode of care either by being discharged, dying, transferring to another hospital or changing type of care.
social determinants of health: The circumstances in which people are born, grow up, live, work and age, and the systems put in place to deal with illness. These circumstances are in turn shaped by a wider set of forces: economics, social policies and politics.
socioeconomic status: The social and economic position of an individual or group within the larger society. In this monitoring site, socioeconomic status is reported using the Socio-Economic Indexes for Areas, typically for 5 groups, from the most disadvantaged (lowest socioeconomic status areas) to the least disadvantaged (highest socioeconomic status areas).
Socio-Economic Indexes for Areas (SEIFA): A set of indexes, created from Census data, that represent the socioeconomic status of geographical areas in Australia according to their relative socioeconomic advantage and disadvantage. The SEIFA index used in this report is the Index of Relative Socioeconomic Disadvantage (IRSD). It is important to understand that the index value reflects the overall or average level of disadvantage of the population of an area; it does not reflect the socioeconomic status of individuals living within the area.
Socio-Economic Indexes for Areas (SEIFA) quintiles: Population-based quintiles are calculated by dividing SEIFA areas into 5 equal groups in such a way that the population in each group is approximately equal. As SEIFA measures the characteristics of an area rather than individuals, the population in the most disadvantaged population-based quintile (‘1—Lowest’) is the 20% of the national population residing in the most disadvantaged areas, rather than the most disadvantaged 20% of the population.
statistical areas: A geographical classification defined by the ABS. They encompass four levels, with increasing size and population: Statistical Areas Level 1 (SA1s); Statistical Areas Level 2 (SA2s); Statistical Areas Level 3 (SA3s); and Statistical Areas Level 4 (SA4s).
statistical significance: A statistical measure indicating how likely the observed difference or association is due to chance alone. Rate differences are deemed to be statistically significant when their confidence intervals do not overlap, since their difference is greater than what could be explained by chance.
suicidal ideation: Serious thoughts about ending one’s own life.
suicidal behaviours: The collective term for suicidal ideation, suicide plans and suicide attempts.
suicide: An action intended to deliberately end one’s own life.
total burden: The sum of fatal burden (YLL) and non-fatal burden (YLD).
underlying cause of death: The disease or injury that initiated the train of events leading directly to a person’s death, or the circumstances of the accident or violence that produced the fatal injury. See also cause(s) of death and associated cause(s) of death.
usual residence: The area of the address at which the deceased lived or intended to live, for 6 months or more prior to death.
years lived with disability (YLD): The number of years of what could have been a healthy life that were instead spent in states of less than full health. YLD represent non-fatal burden.
years of life lost (YLL): The number of years of life lost due to premature death, defined as dying before the ideal life span. YLL represent fatal burden.
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