Suicide registers

In Australia, the coroners court in each state and territory is responsible for investigating suspected deaths by suicide. Most Australian jurisdictions have established suicide registers to record the information provided to coroners at the time a suspected suicide death is referred for investigation.  These surveillance systems provide close to real-time data and are valuable for informing responses, research, and policy in suicide prevention locally, and across national and international levels.

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, suicide registers existed in Queensland (established in 1990), Victoria (2012) and Tasmania (2017). New South Wales established a suicide register in October 2020. Through the Suicide and Self-harm Monitoring Project, the AIHW has worked with governments in the Australian Capital Territory, South Australia, and the Northern Territory to establish suicide registers in these jurisdictions. These registers became operational in 2021, 2022 and 2023, respectively. Visit Data development activities to read more.

Several jurisdictions have published reports on their suicide register data, including:

  • New South Wales (monthly reports up to January 2024)
  • Victoria (monthly reports up to March 2024)
  • Queensland (monthly reports up to February 2024)

These reports are discussed further in the next section. It is important to note that suicide is not influenced or caused by one factor – but results from a complex interaction between multiple risk factors (Leske et al. 2022).

Data on suspected deaths by suicide are based on initial police reports and other information available at the time of referral to the coroner. As such, they are not directly comparable with cause of death data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, which are based on final coronial determinations. However, the differences are generally small. For example, in the case of the Victorian Suicide Register (VSR):

‘VSR analyses have shown that over time, there is consistently less than 5% difference between the number of suicides initially identified as suicide, and the number of deaths ultimately confirmed as suicides’ (CCOV 2022).

The state and territory suicide registers also differ from each other in their processes and counting rules for identifying suspected suicide deaths. Therefore, data from one register cannot be directly compared with those from another.

For more information on suicide register data custodians with published data, visit Data sources.