In females, the suicide rate at age 15–19 for those born most recently (1999–2003) was 1.8 times higher than the earliest cohort born in 1954–58. This pattern was not observed in males of the same age.
For females born in 1999–2003, the suicide rate reached 6.4 deaths per 100,000 cohort members at age 15–19—considerably higher than females born in 1954–58 (3.6 deaths per 100,000 cohort members).
Suicide rates at age 45–49 have increased with each successive birth cohort in both males (from 24.1 in those born in 1954–58 to 29.5 deaths per 100,000 cohort members in those born in 1969–73) and females (from 6.7 to 9.5 deaths per 100,000 cohort members in the same cohorts).
Suicide rates across male cohorts compared at the same age show no clear pattern. Rates at younger ages of death (15–19 and 20–24) tended to be higher for those born prior to 1979–83 than in those born in more recent cohorts (1984–1988 onwards).
- For males born in 1984–88 the suicide rate at age 20–24 was almost half that of the cohort born in 1969–73 (18.0 deaths per 100,000 cohort members compared with 35.1).
- Rates of suicide at age 15–19 for males born in 1974–78 were 1.8 times higher than those with the lowest rate born in 1954–58 (18.0 deaths per 100,000 cohort members and 10.0, respectively). Rates at age 15–19 were 12.3 deaths per 100,000 cohort members in the most recent male birth cohort for which data are available (1999–2003).
Trends in methods of suicide by birth cohort and age at death
Understanding the methods used for suicide can play an important role in suicide prevention. These data are provided to inform discussion around restriction of access to means as a policy intervention for the prevention of suicide.
Please consider your need to read the following information. If this material raises concerns for you or if you need immediate assistance, please contact a crisis support service, available free of charge, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Please consider the Mindframe guidelines if reporting on these statistics.
The classification system used to code causes of deaths data, ICD-10, uses the term ‘mechanism’ to refer to the external cause of death. Throughout Suicide & self-harm monitoring ‘mechanism’ has been used in data visualisations, while the term ‘method’ has been used in the accompanying text.
The interactive data visualisations show which methods underlie changes in suicide rates as people in each birth cohort have aged (top visualisation)—and underlie changes in suicide rates for people of the same age, but born at different times (second visualisation).
Rates of suicide by hanging (ICD-10 X70):
- tended to increase for both male and female birth cohorts as the cohort aged (top visualisation).
- tended to increase in most age groups with each successive birth cohort in females; the pattern in males was less consistent (second visualisation). For example:
- rates of suicide by hanging at ages 15–19 increased for each successive female birth cohort from a low of 0.1 per 100,000 cohort members in those born in the earliest cohort (1954–58) to a high of 4.9 in those born in the most recent cohort (1999–2003).
- in the 2 most recently born female cohorts for which there are data available at ages 15–19 (born in 1994–98 and 1999–2003), rates of suicide by hanging were as high or higher than, rates at almost any other age in all other female cohorts.
- for males, rates of suicide by hanging at ages 15–19 do not show the same pattern as females; rates in male cohorts increased up until those born in 1979–1983 and have since remained at about the same level (9.5 deaths per 100,000 cohort members for the latest birth cohort, born 1999–2003).
Rates of suicide by use of firearms (ICD-10 X72–X75) for both males and females peaked at younger ages (15–19 or 20–24) in all birth cohorts and then declined as cohorts aged (top visualisation). Suicide rates by this method tended to be lower for each successive birth cohort at all ages for which there are data available.
- Each more recently born male cohort (born 1969–73 to 1989–93) had successively lower suicide rates by use of firearms at age 20–24 (7.3, 3.6, 1.5, 1.0 and 0.8 deaths per 100,000 cohort members).
- A similar pattern was seen for female cohorts; however, rates were low.
Rates of suicide due to exposure to poisons excluding gas (ICD-10 X60–X66, X68–X69) in female cohorts were similar to that of male cohorts throughout the period 1964 to 2018 (0–3.6 deaths per 100,000 cohort members compared with 0–4.3, respectively)—unlike that of other suicide methods (top visualisation). Rates of suicide by this method were still rising for most male and female cohorts at the end of the available data.
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. Henley G & Harrison JE 2020. Suicide in Australia: Trends and analysis–1964 to 2018. Injury research and statistics series no. 132. Cat. no. INJCAT 212. Canberra: AIHW.