Data from suicide registers

New South Wales

The New South Wales Suicide Monitoring System (NSW SuMS) was established in October 2020. The NSW SuMS is a collaboration between NSW Health, the Department of Communities and Justice (DCJ), the State Coroner and NSW Police. NSW Health publishes monthly reports on suspected and confirmed deaths by suicide occurring in New South Wales. Data on suspected deaths by suicide are an estimate, and numbers for the same period may differ slightly between reports as the coroners' determinations into the deaths are finalised. Caution is advised against drawing any conclusions about suicide trends in NSW based on short-term changes.

The latest NSW SuMS report for October 2023 shows that (NSW Health 2023):

  • A total of 962 suspected or confirmed suicide deaths was recorded for the full year in 2022. This was higher than the number of suicide deaths in 2021 (908), 2020 (897) and 2019 (946).
  • 798 suspected or confirmed deaths by suicide were recorded between 1 January and 31 October 2023. This is lower than the number of suspected or confirmed deaths by suicide reported over the same period in 2022 (809) and higher than numbers reported in 2021 (741), 2020 (733) and 2019 (759).

The number (frequency) of suspected or confirmed suicide deaths per month varies considerably from month to month, as can be seen in the visualisation below when the “Frequency” view is selected. The “Cumulative Frequency” view shows the year-to-date numbers of suicide deaths for each month. From this view it appears that the increase in suicide numbers in 2022 began from around April 2022.

The interactive data visualisation shows the number of suspected and confirmed deaths by suicide in New South Wales, by month, beginning from January 2019 up to February 2023. Viewing can be changed between frequency and cumulative frequency. An average trendline has been included.

The NSW SuMS also reports on suicide deaths by gender, age group and residential location (NSW Health 2023):

  • In 2022, 747 of the suspected or confirmed suicide deaths reported in NSW were among males. This is higher than the 670 suicide deaths reported in 2021, 673 in 2020 and 733 in 2019.
  • For females, there were 214 suspected or confirmed suicide deaths in 2022, compared with 238 in 2021, 224 in 2020 and 213 in 2019.
  • The highest increase in 2022 was reported in males aged 55 to 64 with 131 deaths by suicide, compared with 97 in 2021. This was followed by males aged 35 to 44, with 143 deaths in 2022 compared with 116 in 2021.
  • In 2022, the 131 suspected or confirmed deaths by suicide reported for males aged 55 to 64 years was higher than any year between 2019 and 2021 (range from 97 to 102). In 2022 for females aged 55 to 64 years, the 34 suspected or confirmed deaths by suicide was also higher than any year between 2019 to 2021 (range from 29 to 33).
  • In each year from 2019 to 2022, around half of suicide deaths in NSW occurred among residents of Greater Sydney, with the remainder comprising residents of the rest of NSW and a small number of interstate/overseas residents.

The interactive data visualisation shows the number of suspected and confirmed deaths by suicide in New South Wales, starting from 2019 up to 2022. The population group is divided by sex (males, females) and age groups, ranging from people under the age of 18 years to 85 years and over. Viewing by location of usual residence can also be selected.

Year-to-date data to October 2023 from the SuMS show:

  • Almost four-fifths (78%) of suspected or confirmed deaths by suicide were among males. This proportion is the same or slightly higher compared with the full-year data for previous years, with males accounting for 78% of suspected or confirmed suicide deaths in 2022, 74% in 2021, 75% in 2020 and 77% in 2019.
  • Around half of suspected or confirmed suicide deaths occurred among residents of Greater Sydney, similar to previous years.
  • Consistent with previous years, the age groups with the highest number of suspected or confirmed suicide deaths were 25–34, 35–44, 45–54, and 55–64 years. In these age groups the number of deaths ranged from 127 to 148 and made up 69% of the total suspected and confirmed suicide deaths between January and October 2023
  • The number of suspected or confirmed deaths by suicide for males aged 85 years and over was the lowest since data collection commenced in 2019 (15 to October 2023, compared with 20 for the same period in 2022, 24 for this period in 2021, 26 in 2020 and 17 in 2019).

The interactive data visualisation shows the number of suspected deaths by suicide in New South Wales, from month end February 2019 to month end February 2023. The population group is divided by sex (males, females) and age group, ranging from people under the age of 18 years to over 85. Viewing by location can also be selected.

Victoria

The Coroners Court of Victoria (CCOV) established the Victorian Suicide Register (VSR) in 2012 and publishes monthly data reports on suspected and confirmed deaths by suicide. VSR data are regularly reviewed, where deaths may be added or removed from the register as coronial investigations progress and are finalised. VSR data may therefore change overtime.

The latest Monthly Suicide Data Report shows (CCOV 2023d):

  • There was a total of 765 suspected or confirmed suicide deaths in 2022. This was higher than the number of suicide deaths in 2021 (681), 2020 (680) and 2019 (697).
  • Between January and November 2023, 729 suspected deaths by suicide were reported in Victoria. This is higher than the same period in 2022 (695), 2021 (627), 2020 (627) and 2019 (632).
  • In November 2023 there were 70 suspected suicide deaths. This is lower than the previous month of October, which recorded 86 suspected suicide deaths – the highest of any month to-date in 2023 and the highest for the month of October since reporting commenced in 2016.  

The interactive data visualisation shows the number of suspected deaths by suicide in Victoria, by month, starting from January 2016 to January 2023. Viewing can be changed between frequency and cumulative frequency. An average trendline has been included.

As illustrated above, the monthly frequency data show considerable variation which, according to the CCOV, usually results from random factors rather than underlying systemic issues or emerging clusters (CCOV 2022). The data therefore should be interpreted cautiously, with great care taken in drawing conclusions about any apparent short-term increase or decrease that is observed.

The “Cumulative Frequency” view in the visualisation above shows that the increase in 2022 began in the second half of the year and ‘is in contrast to the preceding four years, in which Victoria had seen a plateau in suicide numbers’ (CCOV 2023a). The number of suspected or confirmed suicides between January and July 2022 was consistent with previous years, with a monthly average of 58 deaths. However, between August and December 2022, the average monthly frequency increased to 71 deaths, which ‘might signal an emerging trend’ (CCOV 2023a). This increase in suspected and confirmed suicide deaths appears to continue in 2023 with the monthly average of 66 deaths between January and November, higher than previous years.

The highest increase in 2022 was seen in the 65 years and older age group, from 118 suspected or confirmed suicide deaths in 2021 to 156 in 2022. This was followed by the 45 to 54 age group, from 128 deaths in 2021 to 155 deaths in 2022 (CCOV 2023c, 2023a).

The interactive data visualisation shows the number of suspected and confirmed deaths by suicide in Victoria, starting from 2018. The population group is divided by sex (males, females) and age groups, ranging from people under the age of 18 to over 65. Viewing by incident location can also be selected.  

The year-to date data to November 2023 for Victoria (see visualisation below) show 26 suspected suicide deaths among young people aged under 18 years. This is higher than the number of suspected or confirmed suicide deaths recorded during this period for this age group in previous years (14 in 2022, 22 in 2021, 17 in 2020 and 19 in 2019) (CCOV 2023d). The increase in suspected suicide deaths among young people in 2023 occurred between January and April 2023 with 17 suspected suicide deaths recorded in this period for people aged under 18 years. In the following 7 months from May to November 2023, the number of suspected suicide deaths in this age-group was similar or lower than the same period in previous years (9 in 2023, 12 in 2022, 15 in 2021, 8 in 2020, and 17 in 2019) (CCOV 2023d).

CCOV investigated the increase in suicide deaths among young people and in April 2023, released a statement noting that the deaths ‘occurred in diverse circumstances across communities in both Metropolitan Melbourne and Regional Victoria, with no clear links established to date between any of the deaths’ (CCOV 2023b).

Detailed breakdowns of the year-to-date frequency of suspected and confirmed suicide deaths in Victoria by sex and age group, and incident location can be viewed on the visualisation below.

The interactive data visualisation shows the number of suspected deaths by suicide in Victoria, from month end January 2019 to month end April 2023. The population group is divided by sex (males, females) and age group, ranging from people under the age of 18 years to 65 years and over. Viewing by location can also be selected.

Consistent with the annual data for 2019 to 2022, the year-to-date data on suspected deaths by suicide in Victoria in 2023 show that (CCOV 2023d):

  • Around three-quarters of suspected deaths by suicide were among males (72%).
  • The majority of suspected deaths by suicide occurred among those aged between 25 and 54 years (35–44: 153, 25–34: 136 and 45–54: 135).
  • Around two-thirds of suspected suicide deaths occurred in Metropolitan Melbourne (66%).

The CCOV has also published data on suicides of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (First Nations) people. The number of suspected deaths by suicide in 2022 for First Nations people in Victoria was 18, compared to 34 in 2021, 22 in 2020, 20 in 2019, and 14 in 2018. Of those 18 people who were suspected to have died by suicide in 2022, 13 were male. This compares to 24 in 2021, 14 in 2020, 12 in 2019 and 10 in 2018. There were 5 female suspected deaths by suicide in 2022, compared to 10 in 2021, 8 in both 2020 and 2019, and 4 in 2018 (CCOV 2023e).

Between 2018 to 2022, First Nations people made up an average of 3.1% of people who were suspected or confirmed to have died by suicide in Victoria (CCOV 2023e).

Suicide deaths among First Nation people under 35 years of age accounted for 58% of all First Nations people’s suicide deaths. Whereas suicide deaths among non-Indigenous people under 35 years accounted for 32% of all non-Indigenous suicide deaths (CCOV 2023e).

Queensland

The Australian Institute for Suicide Research and Prevention (AISRAP) at Griffith University manages the Queensland Suicide Register (QSR) and the interim Queensland Suicide Register (iQSR). The QSR contains data on confirmed deaths by suicide from 1990 to 2018 and the iQSR contains data on suspected deaths by suicide from 2019 onwards (Leske et al. 2022). Due to the time needed to complete coronial investigations, it can take several years for a death to be confirmed as suicide and entered into the QSR. Until this time, data on deaths where suicide is suspected are available from the iQSR. AISRAP publishes a report on suicides in Queensland annually.

Data from the iQSR show that 813 suspected deaths by suicide of Queensland residents occurred in Queensland in 2021 (Leske et al. 2022). The figure was an increase from 2020 (778) and the highest number of suicides of Queensland residents in a calendar year (Leske et al. 2022). Previously, the highest number of suicides in a calendar year (806) had been recorded in 2017 (Leske et al. 2022).

AISRAP has estimated monthly age-standardised suspected suicide rates for residents of Queensland from 1990 to 2021, taking into account population growth for more meaningful comparisons between years. The monthly age-standardised rates of suspected deaths by suicide from January 2019 to December 2021 is illustrated in the data visualisation below.

The interactive data visualisation shows the age-standardised rate (per 100,000) of suspected deaths by suicide for Queensland residents, by month, starting from January 2019 to December 2021. Choice in sex (persons, males, females) and year (all, 2019, 2020, 2021) are all selectable features.

The estimated age-standardised suspected suicide rate for Queensland residents in 2021 (15.5 per 100,000 population) was 3.1% higher than in 2020 (15.1) (Leske et al. 2022). When looking at males and females separately, the estimated suspected suicide rate for males decreased from 2020 to 2021 (from 24.0 to 23.7 per 100,000 population), while the rate for females increased (from 6.5 in 2020 to 7.6 in 2021) (Leske et al. 2022).

Data from the iQSR for 2021 show that of the 813 Queensland residents who died by suspected suicide (Leske et al. 2022):

  • 75.0% were male and 25.0% were female
  • the majority of suspected deaths by suicide for both males and females occurred among those aged between 20 and 59.

Of the 813 suspected deaths by suicide that occurred among Queensland residents in 2021, 57 (7.0%) of those were among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people (Leske et al. 2022).

Leske et al. (2022) have analysed age-specific suspected suicide rates in the COVID-19 period (February 2020 to December 2021) and before COVID-19 (January 2015 to January 2020) for males and females separately. The analysis found that, while there were some differences by sex and age, there was no evidence of an increase in suspected suicide rates since the onset COVID-19 pandemic and restrictions. However, examination of police reports indicated that between 29 January 2020 and 31 December 2021 the pandemic appeared to be a contributing factor in 86 of the 1,539 suspected suicides (5.6%). For more information see: COVID-19.