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In Australia, the coroners court in each state and territory is responsible for investigating suspected deaths by suicide. Several jurisdictions have established their respective suicide surveillance systems to collect and report timely data and information on suspected and confirmed deaths by suicide. Suicide registers are currently operational in New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania and the Australian Capital Territory. Real-time data from suicide registers are valuable for informing responses, research, and policy in suicide prevention locally, and across national and international levels.
Several jurisdictions have published reports on their suicide register data, including:
New South Wales (monthly reports up to October 2023)
Victoria (monthly reports up to November 2023)
Queensland (annual reports up to 2021)
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. 2020).
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.
To facilitate comprehensive suicide surveillance across Australia, the AIHW is working with other state and territory governments to establish suicide registers in their jurisdiction. Visit Data development activities to read more.