Suicide & self-harm monitoring data

Suicide and Self-harm monitoring data

Suicide and Self-harm Monitoring brings together key statistical data on suicide and self-harm from multiple national sources that will be updated regularly as new data become available. Here, you can examine the data through interactive visualisations and read information on the demographics, trends, methods and risk factors of suicide and self-harm in Australia.

This website represents only one part of a comprehensive program of work on suicide and self-harm in Australia by the AIHW (for more information see About the Suicide and Self-harm Monitoring System).

Why is it important to collect data about suicide and self-harm?

Monitoring of suicide and intentional self-harm—how many people harm themselves, when, where and how—can provide a better understanding of the nature of suicide and self-harm in Australia and help determine who may be at increased risk. Reporting of this data can raise community awareness of suicide and self-harm, further research, improve responses and support services for those that need them, and inform the design and targeting of suicide prevention activities.

Considerations when using these data

The assembling and national reporting of deaths by suicide has up to an 18-month time lag. Additionally, hospital admissions data are collated as an annual release with a 12-month lag.

Suicide registers that exist in several jurisdictions can provide more timely data on suspected deaths by suicide—a key aim of this project is for suicide registers to exist in all jurisdictions (see below). Ambulance data are currently available for some states and territories for selected months from 2018 to 2021 (see Ambulance attendances: suicidal and self-harm behaviours), with monthly data from January 2021. In addition, monthly ambulance data for Victoria from January to March 2021 are also reported (see COVID-19). Further information on the collection of data and sources is available in the Technical notesCoronial suicide registers capable of providing timely data on deaths suspected to have been by suicide have been established in New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, Western Australia and Tasmania. 

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the AIHW made arrangements with several of these suicide registers to obtain  timely data to inform governments' decision making and response to the pandemic. The AIHW has been receiving these data since April 2020 and reporting them to government weekly in 2020 and fortnightly in 2021 (see Regular updates to Government on Mental health-related service use). Data from these registers will not be publicly available unless the relevant jurisdiction decides to release data (see Suspected deaths by suicide). These data exist to inform the deliberations of the Coroner and are extremely sensitive. 

The AIHW has been working with State Coroners and Department of Health officials in South Australia, the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory to establish suicide registers in these jurisdictions. Detailed planning with South Australia and the Australian Capital Territory is continuing for registers to be established later in 2021. The AIHW is also working with the Northern Territory Coroners Court to establish a suicide register for the Northern Territory. 

Deaths by suicide may be presented by year of occurrence of death or year of registration. Although reporting of deaths by suicide by year of death can provide more reliable information on trends in occurrence than reporting by year of registration, the latest data available may underestimate the number of deaths, especially those in the later months of the year, due to a lag in registration. For this reason, and unless otherwise specified, year of registration of death has been used to allow the latest year of data to be compared with previous years. In both cases, the latest years of data are coded with preliminary causes of death information and may underestimate causes of death that are usually certified by a coroner, including deaths by suicide. For more information on how deaths are registered, coded and updated, see Technical notes.

Issues with small numbers and the need for caution

Deaths by suicide are statistically rare events. Small numbers can raise privacy and confidentially issues but also statistical concerns. For this report, values based on small numbers of deaths, hospitalisations for intentional self-harm or ambulance attendances have been suppressed in order to maintain data confidentiality, and/or avoid publishing statistics of low reliability. See Technical notes for further information.  

The statistics on deaths by suicide reported here fluctuate from one period to the next—mostly due to small counts (and in the case of females, very small counts)—especially in many smaller subgroups (for example, individual age groups or small geographic areas). Estimates of rates are also subject to random variability. Statistics based on small numbers of deaths by suicide should be interpreted with caution and all rates and their comparison with rates in other populations should be reported in context. For further insight into the methodological challenges and statistical issues of monitoring suicide and self-harm, see Suicide Mortality in Australia: Estimating and Projecting Monthly Variation and Trends From 2007 to 2018 and Beyond.

How to use the interactive data visualisations

  • Due to large data sets, visualisations may take time to load.
  • Visualisations are compatible with Chrome, Microsoft Edge and Firefox.
  • Each panel may contain more than 1 visualisation. You can interact with the visualisations to see the specific data you are interested in by either selecting from the filter(s) at the bottom of the chart, or in the case of maps, from the pop up box by clicking on an area of interest.
  • Hover over each data point to see the underlying data and, if available, further details.
  • The Data downloads page provides the source data as Excel (.xlsx) files. The relevant source supplementary table is cited at the bottom of each visualisation.
  • Each visualisation may be downloaded and exported or shared.
  • A print friendly PDF of all pages of text and the default visualisations related to suicide and self-harm may also be downloaded—click on the ‘Download all data pages’ button. See Technical notes for information about data sources, data quality and methodology.