Deaths referred to the coroner – NCIS data

There were 740 deaths recorded in the NCIS for the second half of 2019 (from 1 July to 31 December 2019). These were deaths where the coronial case was complete and was not ongoing or open.

Most deaths occur in the home

The most common location of injury incidents that resulted in a coronial death investigation was a Home or dwelling (485 cases; 66%), followed by Transport areas (16%, 121 cases) such as roads. This is a similar pattern to the alcohol-related hospitalisations data.

Contribution of alcohol to death

Of the 740 cases, alcohol was the primary contributor for 304 (41%) deaths. That is, the deaths were primarily caused by poisoning from a pharmaceutical substance(s), among which alcohol was identified. In the other 436 (59%) cases, alcohol was a secondary contributor to the death, with another cause of death as the primary cause.

Among the 436 cases where alcohol was a secondary contributor, the leading primary causes were asphyxiation (hanging) (168 cases, 39%), vehicle incident (102 cases, 23%) and fall-related (52 cases, 12%).

Role of drugs

For 231 cases (31%), alcohol was the sole drug that contributed to the death. For the other 509 cases (69%) there were other drugs that contributed to death as well as alcohol.

Among the 509 cases where multiple drugs contributed to the death, there were 1,231 instances of drug classes detected – an average of 2.4 drugs per death. Sedatives and hypnotics (263 cases, 21%) followed by analgesics (253 cases, 21%) and antidepressants and antipsychotics (230 cases, 19%) were the leading drug classes identified.

The drug group categories used in the NHMD (used for hospitalisations data) and the NCIS are different. Even so, both show that depressants (including sedatives and hypnotics), analgesics (both non-opioid and non-opioid) and antidepressants are the most common types of other drugs involved in alcohol-related hospitalisations and deaths.

For more detailed data, see Data tables C1–6.