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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.
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).
Data for each year from 2016-2021 show that in Victoria (Coroners Court 2021, 2022a):
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).
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).
Data from the iQSR for 2020 show that of the 779 Queensland residents who died by suspected suicide (Leske et al. 2021):
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.
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.
In each year from 2019 to 2021 (NSW Ministry of Health 2022):
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).
Coroners Court of Victoria 2020. Monthly Suicide Data Report, 1 – 27 August 2020.
Coroners Court of Victoria 2021. Monthly Suicide Data Report, December 2020 update – 18 January 2021.
Coroners Court of Victoria 2022a. Monthly Suicide Data Report, June 2022 update – 21 July 2022.
Coroners Court of Victoria 2022b. Suicides of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People, Victoria, 2018-20.
Leske S, Adam G, Schrader I, Catakovic A, Weir B, & Crompton D (2020). Suicide in Queensland: Annual Report 2020. Brisbane, Queensland, Australia: Australian Institute for Suicide Research and Prevention, School of Applied Psychology, Griffith University.
Leske S, Schrader I, Adam G, Catakovic A, Weir B, & Kôlves K (2021). Suicide in Queensland: Annual Report 2020. Brisbane, Queensland, Australia: Australian Institute for Suicide Research and Prevention, School of Applied Psychology, Griffith University.
NSW Health 2022. NSW Suicide Monitoring System, Report 21. Data to May 2022.
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