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 September 2022 shows that the number of deaths in Victoria suspected to be from suicide in 2021 (693) was similar in 2020 (691), 2019 (699) and 2018 (697) (Coroners Court 2022a). 

From 1 January to 30 September 2022, 549 suspected suicide deaths were reported in Victoria. This is compared to 504 for the same period in 2021, 519 in 2020, and 520 in 2019 (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 September 2022

The figure shows the number of suspected deaths by suicide in Victoria, by month between 1 January 2016 and 30 September 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 76 in September 2022.

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

The figure shows the cumulative number of suspected deaths by suicide in Victoria, by month between 1 January 2016 and 30 September 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.

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 to 2018 and iQSR contains data on suspected deaths by suicide from 2019 onwards (Leske et al. 2022). 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 813 suspected deaths by suicide of Queensland residents occurred in Queensland in 2021 (Leske et al. 2022). The figure was an increase from 2020 (778) and the highest number of suicides of Queensland residents in a calendar year (Leske et al. 2022).  Previously, the highest number of suicides in a calendar year (806) had been recorded in 2017 (Leske et al. 2022).

AISRAP has estimated monthly age-standardised suspected suicide rates for residents of Queensland from 1990 to 2021, 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 2019 to December 2021 (data supplied by AISRAP 2022).

The estimated age-standardised suspected suicide rate for Queensland residents in 2021 (15.5 per 100,000 population) was 3.1% higher than in 2020 (15.1) (Leske et al. 2022). When looking at males and females separately, the estimated suspected suicide rate for males decreased from 2020 to 2021 (from 24.0 to 23.7 per 100,000 population), while the rate for females increased (from 6.5 in 2020 to 7.6 in 2021) (Leske et al. 2022).

Figure 3: Age-standardised suspected deaths by suicide rate per 100,000, Queensland males, by month, January 2019 to December 2021

The figure shows the age-standardised suspected deaths by suicide rate per 100,000 for Queensland males, by month between 1 January 2019 to 31 December 2021. The rates fluctuate by month, with the lowest rate in April 2021 and the highest in February 2020.

Figure 4: Age-standardised rate of suspected deaths by suicide per 100,000, Queensland female residents, by month, January 2019 to December 2021

The figure shows the age-standardised suspected suicide rate per 100,000 for Queensland females, by month between 1 January 2019 to 31 December 2021. The rates fluctuate by month, with the lowest rate in July 2020 and the highest in April 2019.

Data from the iQSR for 2021 show that of the 813 Queensland residents who died by suspected suicide (Leske et al. 2022):

  • 75.0% were male and 25.0% were female
  • the majority of suspected deaths by suicide for both males and females occurred among those aged between 20 and 59.

Of the 813 suspected deaths by suicide that occurred among  Queensland residents in 2021, 57 (7.0%) of those were among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people (Leske et al. 2022).

Leske et al. (2022) have analysed age-specific suspected suicide rates in the COVID-19 period (February 2020 to December 2021) and before COVID-19 (January 2015 to January 2020) for males and females separately. The analysis found that, while there were some differences by sex and age, there was no evidence of an increase in suspected suicide rates since the onset COVID-19 pandemic and restrictions. However, examination of police reports indicated that between 29 January 2020 and 31 December 2021 the pandemic appeared to be a contributing factor in 86 of the 1,539 suspected suicides (5.6%). 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 August 2022 found there were 918 suspected deaths by suicide in New South Wales in 2021. This is higher than the number of deaths reported for 2020 (901) but lower than for 2019 (946) (NSW Health 2022).

From 1 January 2022 to 31 August 2022, there were 660 suspected deaths by suicide recorded in NSW, compared with 600 suspected suicide deaths recorded during the same period in 2021, 594 recorded in 2020, and 582 in 2019 (NSW Ministry of 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 August 2022.

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

The figure shows the number of suspected deaths by suicide in New South Wales, by month between 1 January 2019 and 31 August 2022. Numbers ranged between 57 in April 2019 and 101 in January 2021.

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

The figure shows the cumulative number of suspected deaths by suicide in New South Wales, by month between 1 January 2019 and 31 August 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.