Data from suicide registers

Suspected deaths by suicide in Victoria

The Coroners Court of Victoria established the Victorian Suicide Register in 2012 and publishes monthly data reports on suspected deaths by suicide.

The Monthly Suicide Data Report for June 2022 shows that the number of deaths in Victoria suspected to be from suicide in 2021 (695) was similar in 2020 (698), 2019 (699) and 2018 (697) (Coroners Court 2022a).

The monthly data show considerable variation (see Figure 1 below), however, as can be seen in Figure 2 below ‘these monthly fluctuations tend to even out over the course of a year. This demonstrates the importance of not attributing too much significance to the suicide frequency in any one month’ (Coroners Court 2020). The variation between months ‘usually results from random factors rather than underlying systemic issues or emerging clusters. The data therefore should be interpreted cautiously, with great care taken in drawing conclusions about any apparent increase or decrease that is observed’ (Coroners Court 2021).

Figure 1: Number of suspected deaths by suicide in Victoria, by month, January 2016 to June 2022

The figure shows the number of suspected deaths by suicide in Victoria, by month between January 2016 and June 2022. The monthly frequency of deaths suspected to have been by suicide has been relatively steady over the past six years with the number of suspected deaths by suicide varying between 38 in September 2017 and 74 in October 2021.

Figure 2: Cumulative number of suspected deaths by suicide in Victoria, by month, January 2016 to June 2022

The figure shows the cumulative number of suspected deaths by suicide in Victoria, by month between 1 January 2016 and 30 June 2022. The figure shows that, despite monthly variations, the cumulative number of suspected deaths by suicide evens out over the course of a year and the total number of suspected deaths by suicide each year from 2016 to 2021 was fairly consistent.

Data for each year from 2016-2021 show that in Victoria (Coroners Court 2021, 2022a):

  • around three-quarters of suspected deaths by suicide are among males
  • the majority of suspected deaths by suicide for both males and females occur among those aged between 25 and 54
  • around two-thirds of suspected deaths by suicide occur in metropolitan locations.

From 1 January to 30 June 2022, 354 suspected suicide deaths were reported in Victoria. This is compared to 344 for the same period in 2021, 357 in 2020, and 352 in 2019 (Coroners Court 2022a).

The Coroners Court of Victoria has also published data on suicides of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. The number of suspected or confirmed deaths by suicide in 2021 for Indigenous Australians in Victoria was 35, compared to 20 in 2020, 21 in 2019, 16 in 2018. Between 2009-2019, there were between 6 and 17 deaths by suicide (noting that data for this period are unreliable). The Coroners Court of Victoria notes that based on the historical context, this does not appear to be a result of random effects or fluctuation in the data (Coroners Court 2022b).

There was a marked difference between sex, with the number of suspected suicides among Indigenous males rising from 12 in 2020 to 25 in 2021 compared to a rise from 8 to 10 for Indigenous females over the same period (Coroners Court 2022b).

Suspected deaths by suicide in Queensland

The Australian Institute for Suicide Research and Prevention (AISRAP) at Griffith University manages the Queensland Suicide Register (QSR) and the interim Queensland Suicide Register (iQSR). The QSR contains data on confirmed deaths by suicide from 1990-2017 and iQSR contains data on suspected deaths by suicide from 2018 onwards (Leske et al. 2021). AISRAP publishes a report on suicides in Queensland annually.

Due to the time needed to complete coronial investigations, it can take several years for a death to be confirmed as suicide and entered into the QSR. Until this time, data on deaths where suicide is suspected are available from the iQSR. Data from the iQSR show that 791 suspected deaths by suicide occurred in Queensland in 2020 (Leske et al. 2021). Of these deaths, 779 were among residents of Queensland (Leske et al. 2021), compared with 757 suspected deaths in 2019 (Leske et al. 2020).  

AISRAP has estimated monthly age-standardised suspected suicide rates for residents of Queensland from 1990 to 2020, taking into account population growth for more meaningful comparisons between years. Figures 3 and 4 show monthly age-standardised rates of suspected deaths by suicide from January 2015 to August 2020 (data supplied by AISRAP 2020).

While there are fluctuations by month, the estimated age standardised suspected suicide rate for Queensland residents in 2020 (15.1 per 100,000 population) was similar to 2019 (14.9) and lower than the average of the past 5 years (15.5) (Leske et al. 2021). However, when looking at males and females separately, the estimated suspected suicide rate for males increased from 2019 to 2020 (from 22.9 to 24.0 per 100,000 population), while the rate for females decreased (from 7.3 in 2019 to 6.6 in 2020). The estimated rates for both males and females in 2020 remained lower than in 2017 (25.7 for males and 8.1 for females) (Leske et al. 2021).

Figure 3: Age-standardised suspected deaths by suicide rate per 100,000, Queensland males, by month, January 2015 to August 2020

The figure shows the age-standardised suspected deaths by suicide rate per 100,000 for Queensland males, by month between 1 January 2015 and 31 August 2020. The rates fluctuate by month, with the lowest rate in May 2016 and the highest in February 2020.

Figure 4: Age-standardised suspected suicide rate per 100,000, Queensland females, by month, January 2015 to August 2020

The figure shows the age-standardised suspected suicide rate per 100,000 for Queensland females, by month between 1 January 2015 and 31 August 2020. The rates fluctuate by month, with the lowest rate in February 2016 and the highest in April 2019.

Data from the iQSR for 2020 show that of the 779 Queensland residents who died by suspected suicide (Leske et al. 2021):

  • around 78% were male and 22% were female
  • the majority of suspected deaths by suicide for both males and females occurred among those aged between 20 and 59
  • more than half (around 58%) of suspected deaths by suicide occurred in major cities, compared with regional, remote and very remote areas.

Of the 791 suspected deaths by suicide that occurred in Queensland in 2020, 66 (8.3%) of those were among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people (Leske et al. 2021).

While the COVID-19 pandemic does not appear to have affected suicide rates in Queensland, Leske et al. (2021) reported that between 1 March and 31 December 2020 the pandemic appeared to be a contributing factor in 53 of 639 suspected suicides (8.3%), according to police reports. For more information see: COVID-19.

Suspected deaths by suicide in New South Wales

The New South Wales Suicide Monitoring System is a collaboration between NSW Health, the Department of Communities and Justice (DCJ), the State Coroner and NSW Police, which was established in October 2020. NSW Health publishes monthly reports on suspected deaths by suicide occurring in New South Wales.

The latest report for May 2022 found there were 922 suspected deaths by suicide in New South Wales in 2021. This is higher than the number of deaths reported for 2020 (902) but lower than for 2019 (945) (NSW Health 2022).  Figures 5 and 6 below show the monthly frequencies of suspected deaths by suicide and cumulative monthly number of suspected deaths by suicide, respectively, from 1 January 2019 to 31 May 2022.

Figure 5: Number of suspected deaths by suicide in New South Wales, by month, January 2019 to May 2022

The figure shows the number of suspected deaths by suicide in New South Wales, by month between 1 January 2019 and 31 May 2022. Numbers ranged between 57 in April 2019 and 103 in January 2021.

Figure 6: Cumulative number of suspected deaths by suicide in New South Wales, by month, January 2019 to May 2022 

The figure shows the cumulative number of suspected deaths by suicide in New South Wales, by month between 1 January 2019 and 31 May 2022. The figure shows that, despite monthly variations, the cumulative number of suspected deaths by suicide evens out over the course of a year.

In each year from 2019 to 2021 (NSW Ministry of Health 2022):

  • around three-quarters of suspected deaths by suicide were among males
  • more than half of all suspected deaths by suicide occurred among those aged between 25 and 54
  • around half of suspected deaths by suicide occurred among residents of Greater Sydney, with the remainder comprising residents of the rest of NSW and a small number of interstate/overseas residents.

From 1 January 2022 to 31 May 2022, there were 431 suspected deaths by suicide recorded in NSW, compared with 399 suspected suicide deaths recorded during the same period in 2021, 353 recorded in 2020 and 363 in 2019 (NSW Ministry of Health 2022).