Suicide rates among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are substantially higher than those of non-Indigenous Australians (see Deaths by suicide amongst Indigenous Australians). Reducing deaths by suicide and suicidal behaviour among Indigenous Australians is a public health priority for all Australian governments (Cth of Australia, 2022). Therefore, providing data and information about suicide and self-harm among Indigenous Australians is a priority for the National Suicide and Self-harm Monitoring System.
For more information on suicide among Indigenous Australians and efforts to enhance and improve access to the evidence base, see the Indigenous Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Clearinghouse.
The following is an overview of the estimated impact of suicide among Indigenous Australians, from AIHW’s Australian Burden of Disease study (see Australian Burden of Disease Study: impact and causes of illness and death in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people 2018). The visualisation directly below shows the estimated total number of years of life lost (YLL) among Indigenous Australians for the top 20 leading contributors to YLL. This information is displayed separately for each of the study years (2003, 2011 and 2018).
Suicide and self-inflicted injuries were the second highest cause of total YLL among Indigenous Australians, second to coronary heart disease across all three data years. In 2018, there was approximately 10,800 YLL for suicide and self-inflicted injuries, an increase of around 2,400 years since 2011 (8,400 YLL) and 4,100 years since 2003 (6,700 YLL).
Among Indigenous men, suicide and self-inflicted injuries were the second highest cause of YLL, after coronary heart disease. Approximately 8,000 years of life were lost to suicide and self-inflicted injuries in 2018, compared to around 5,900 YLL in 2011 and 5,400 YLL in 2003.
In 2018, approximately 2,800 years of life were lost due to suicide and self-inflicted injuries among Indigenous women. Though suicide and self-inflicted injuries were the second leading cause of YLL in both 2018 and 2011, they were the sixth leading cause of YLL among Indigenous women in 2003.