New AIHW report looks at suicide and self-harm statistics

Suicide and intentional self-harm are significant public health problems in Australia, with the number of Australians who died by suicide averaging around 2,000 each year since the mid-1980s, according to a report released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).

For over a decade, more than 20,000 Australians have been admitted to hospital each year as a result of intentionally self‑inflicted injuries.

The report, Suicide and hospitalised self-harm in Australia: trends and analysis 2010-11, shows that suicides accounted for 2,282 injury deaths in Australia in 2010-11. This is lower than when the number of deaths by suicide peaked at over 2,600 in 1997 and 1998.

'Suicide death rates for males, adjusted for age, have fluctuated at around 20 deaths per 100,000 people between 1921 and 2010,' said AIHW spokesperson Professor James Harrison.

Rates for females were about 5 deaths per 100,000 people per year in most of this period.

The report also looks at generational differences in suicide.

'For females, we haven't seen any marked variation among different generations,' Professor Harrison said.

'Suicide rates at about 20 years of age were higher for men born from the mid-1940s to the mid-1970s than for men born earlier or later in the twentieth century.'

Suicide rates among Indigenous Australians were around twice as high as corresponding rates for non-Indigenous Australians.

While rates of suicide are lower among females, rates of hospitalisation as a result of intentional self-harm were at least 40% higher for females than males between 1999-00 and 2011-12.

Rates for females hospitalised as a result of intentional self‑harm out‑numbered male cases most markedly in the teen years.

Rates of hospitalised self-harm peaked for females in the 15 to 19 age group, with around 430 cases per 100,000, while male rates in this age group were around 144 cases per 100,000.

Among Indigenous Australians rates of self-harm are about 2.5 times and two times higher than rates for non-Indigenous males and females respectively.

The AIHW is a major national agency set up by the Australian Government to provide reliable, regular and relevant information and statistics on Australia's health and welfare.

For information and advice on how to report on mental illness and suicide responsibly, visit

If you need immediate assistance or support, please contact:

Lifeline 13 11 14

Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467

Mensline 1300 78 99 78

Canberra, 3 December 2014


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