Intentional self-harm hospitalisations by method

Understanding the methods used for intentional self-harm can play an important role in its prevention. These data are provided to inform discussion around restriction of access to means as a policy intervention for the prevention of suicide and self-harm.

Please consider your need to read the following information. If this material raises concerns for you or if you need immediate assistance, please contact a crisis support service, available free of charge, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Please consider the Mindframe guidelines if reporting on these statistics.

The classification system used to code hospital admissions data, ICD-10-AM, uses the term ‘mechanism’ to refer to the external cause of a self-inflicted injury. Throughout Suicide & self-harm monitoring ‘mechanism’ has been used in data visualisations, while the term ‘method’ has been used in the accompanying text.

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

Hospitalisations for intentional self-harm, by age, sex and mechanism, Australia, 2008–09 to 2020–22.

The line graph shows the age-specific rates of intentional self-harm hospitalisations for persons of all ages from 2008–09 to 2020–22 by method of self-harm. Users can also choose to view age-specific rate, numbers, and proportion of hospitalisations for intentional self-harm by sex for each age group. 

Most intentional self-harm hospitalisations are due to poisoning by pharmaceutical drugs

Between 2008–09 and 2021–22, the 2 most common methods of self-harm resulting in hospitalisation were intentional self-poisoning by anti-epileptic, sedative-hypnotic, antiparkinsonism and psychotropic drugs, not elsewhere classified (benzodiazepines are included in this category) (X61) and intentional self-poisoning by nonopioid analgesics, antipyretics and antirheumatics (X60):

  • Intentional self-poisoning by anti-epileptic, sedative-hypnotic, antiparkinsonism and psychotropic drugs, not elsewhere classified (X61), which was responsible for 39% of intentional self-harm hospitalisations in 2021–22.
    • In 2021-22, 7,183 females were hospitalised as a result of this method of self-harm, compared to 3,187 males. This is more than 2 times as many hospitalisations among females compared to males in 2021-22.
  • Intentional self-poisoning by nonopioid analgesics, antipyretics and antirheumatics (X60), which was responsible for 22% of intentional self-harm hospitalisations in 2021–22.
    • This category includes anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen, antipyretics (for example, aspirin and paracetamol) and anti-rheumatics (some of which are used to treat arthritis).
    • More than 3 times as many hospitalisations were among females due to this method of self-harm in 2021–22 compared to male hospitalisations (4,756 and 1,161 hospitalisations, respectively).

Contact with sharp objects (X78) was another common method of self-harm resulting in hospitalisation.

  • This method of self-inflicted injury accounted for 13% of all intentional self-harm hospitalisations in 2021–22, with more hospitalisations among females than males (1,974 and over 1,541 hospitalisations, respectively).

Hanging (X70) and Gas (X67) were the only methods of intentional self-harm that resulted in more male than female hospitalisations in 2021–22 (457 and 318 hospitalisations, and 100 and 26 hospitalisations, respectively).