Injury and poisoning deaths

Why are injury and poisoning death rates important?

Injury and poisoning have a major, but largely preventable, impact on the health of young Australians and are also a leading cause of death. Adolescence and early adulthood is the stage in life where young people engage in behaviours that can put their health and wellbeing at risk, with young people being over-represented in injury and poisoning death statistics, in Australia and around the world (WHO 2014, AIHW 2015). Of particular concern are the high rates of injury deaths among young Australians caused by traffic accidents, suicide and assault (AIHW 2015). See also Road fatalities and Suicide.

Do rates vary across population groups?

In 2012 the rate of death due to injuries or poisoning among all young people was 23 per 100,000. Young people aged 18–24 had a higher injury death rate, more than 2.5 times as high as those aged 12–17 years (31 per 100,000 compared to 12 per 100,000). Similarly, males had a higher rate of injury death than females (32 per 100,000 compared to 13 per 100,000). Indigenous young people were more than 3 times as likely to die from an injury as Other Australian young people in the 5–year period 2008–12 (61 per 100,000 compared to 18 per 100,000).

In 2012, the leading causes of injury death among all young people were suicide (8.6 per 100,000) and land transport accidents (7.7 per 100,000). Other causes of death were accidental poisoning (1.5 per 100,000) and assault/homicide (1.1 per 100,000). 

Has there been a change over time?

From 2003 to 2012, deaths due to injury and poisoning showed a steady decline from 31 per 100,000 to 23 per 100,000. Over this period, there was a similar decline for young people aged 18–24 years (44 per 100,000 to 31 per 100,000), whereas the trend for 12–17 year olds was less pronounced (16 per 100,000 to 12 per 100,000). Similarly, there was a decline in the injury death rate among young males from 2003 to 2012 (47 per 100,000 to 32 per 100,000) whilst the rate for young females was relatively steady (14 compared to 13 per 100,000). During the period from 2003–07 to 2008–12, the injury death rate among Indigenous young people showed little change (62 compared with 61 per 100,000 respectively). The trend among Other Australian young people was more evident, with the rate declining from 28 per 100,000 to 18 per 100,000, over this period.

From 2003 to 2012, there was a decline in the rate of all injury deaths from 31 per 100,000 to 23 per 100,000. This appeared to be largely driven by a reduction in the rate of injury deaths caused by transport accidents over this period (13 per 100,000 to 7.7 per 100,000). There also appeared to be a slight reduction in the rate of injury deaths caused by accidental poisoning (2.1 per 100,000 to 1.5 per 100,000), although this trend was not strong.