Data from suicide registers

Suspected deaths by suicide in Victoria

The number of suspected deaths by suicide in Victoria each year has been relatively steady over the past five years, with the number in 2020 (699) slightly lower than in 2019 (718) and similar to 2018 (700) (Coroners Court 2021). The monthly data show considerable variation (see Figure 1 below), however, '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, 2016 to 2020

The figure shows the number of suspected deaths by suicide in Victoria, by month between 2016 and 2020. The monthly frequency of deaths suspected to have been by suicide has been relatively steady over the past five years with the number of suspected deaths by suicide varying between 40 in September 2017 and 73 in January 2019 and March 2020.

Data for 2020 were consistent with previous years and show that (Coroners Court 2021):

  • Around three-quarters of suspected deaths by suicide in 2020 were among males
  • The majority of suspected deaths by suicide for both males and females occurred among those aged between 25 and 55
  • Approximately two-thirds of suspected deaths by suicide occurred in metropolitan locations

The number of suspected deaths by suicide reported in Victoria in January (56) and February 2021 (49) are also similar to those reported for the same period in 2017–2020 (Coroners Court 2021).

Suspected deaths by suicide in Queensland

Data from the interim Queensland Suicide Register (iQSR) show that the number of suspected deaths from suicide from 1 January to 31 July 2020 (454) was similar to that of the same period in 2019 (445) and 2017 (456) (Leske et al. 2020).

Leske et al. have estimated monthly age-standardised suspected suicide rates in Queensland in 2020 for both males and females, taking into account population growth for more meaningful comparisons between years. Estimated rates for 2020 are similar to the previous 5 years; see Figures 2 and 3, replicated with permission from Leske et al. (2020) and including updated data for August 2020.

Figure 2:  Age-standardised suspected deaths by suicide rate per 100,000, Queensland males, by month, 1 January 2015 to 31 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.

Figure 3:  Age-standardised suspected suicide rate per 100,000, Queensland females, by month, 1 January 2015 to 31 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.

While data for Queensland do not show rises in suspected suicide rates compared with previous years, the 2020 iQSR reported that up until 31 July 2020, police officers mentioned COVID-19 in 32 of 454 suspected suicides (7%) (Leske et al. 2020). For more information see COVID-19.

Suspected deaths by suicide in New South Wales

The New South Wales Suicide Monitoring System, established in October 2020, reported 898 suspected deaths by suicide in NSW 2020. This is 46 lower than the number of deaths reported in 2019 (944) (NSW Ministry of Health 2021).

Figure 4:  Number of suspected deaths by suicide in New South Wales, by month, 2019 to 2020

The figure shows the number of suspected deaths by suicide in New South Wales, by month between 2019 and 2020. Numbers ranged between 56 in April 2019 and 95 in December 2019. The monthly frequencies of suspected deaths by suicide in 2020 were similar to that of 2019.

In 2019 and 2020 (NSW Ministry of Health 2021):

  • 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 55
  • Around half of suspected deaths by suicide occurred among residents of Greater Sydney

The number of suspected deaths by suicide reported in New South Wales in January 2021 (104) is greater than in January 2020 (81) and January 2019 (75) (NSW Ministry of Health 2021). In relation to this finding, the NSW Ministry of Health (2021) notes that ‘suicide frequency can vary substantially from month to month and so caution is needed when interpreting changes from a single month.’

References

Coroners Court of Victoria 2020. Monthly Suicide Data Report, 1 – 27 August 2020.

Coroners Court of Victoria 2021. Monthly Suicide Data Report, February 2021 update – 12 March 2021.

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.

NSW Ministry of Health 2021. NSW Suicide Monitoring System, Report 5. Data to January 2021.