Key facts

Suicide is a prominent public health concern in Australia, and globally.

Data and trends relating to suicide in Australia can change over time. It is important to have accurate and up-to-date information about suicide to inform planning, policy and practice.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) released its Causes of Death, Australia, 2020 data on Wednesday, 29 September 2021. This page has been updated to reflect the most up-to-date information.

Brief snapshot

  • In 2020, there was a decrease in suicide deaths from 3,318 deaths in 2019 (12.9 per 100,000) to 3,139 deaths in 2020 (12.1 per 100,000). This is the lowest national suicide rate recorded since 2016.
  • The suicide rate for males decreased by 6.1% between 2019 and 2020.
  • The suicide rate for females decreased by 7.9% between 2019 and 2020.
  • Young and middle-aged people are more likely to die by suicide, with 83.6% of people under 65 years.
  • Men over 85 years had the highest age-specific suicide rate but accounted for the smallest proportion (3.1%) of male suicides. Men aged 40-54 years accounted for over one quarter (26.7%) of male suicides.
  • Women aged 45-49 years had the highest age-specific suicide rate and accounted for the highest proportion (10.9%) of female suicides.

For a full snapshot of the ABS Causes of Death data for 2020, visit Mindframe.

The reasons people take their own life are very complex. There is no single reason why a person attempts or dies by suicide.

Australia has a diverse population regionally, but also culturally and demographically, There are three priority populations that have been identified in national policy due to their increased risk of suicidal behaviour, including:

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples
  • Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ+) people
  • Culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) people.

It should be acknowledged that some priority populations are not intrinsically more at risk of suicidal behaviour, but rather these individuals may experience greater rates of discrimination, isolation and other forms of social exclusion which can impact on suicidal thinking and behaviour.

Others may be at increased risk of suicide due to their experiences (in childhood or adulthood), their current access to economic and social resources, their current health status and their previous exposure to suicidal behaviour. These populations may include:

  • People who are socioeconomically disadvantaged
  • Adults and young people in (or recently released from) custodial settings
  • People who have a previous history of suicide attempt/s
  • People bereaved by suicide
  • People living in rural and remote areas
  • People living with mental illness and/or drug and alcohol problems
  • People who experience trauma in childhood
  • Children and young people in out-of-home care
  • People living with chronic pain or illness.

While men are three times more likely to die by suicide than women, females generally have higher rates of suicidal thinking, planning and attempts.

When considering the full spectrum of suicidal thinking and behaviours, both men and women are affected across the age span, and interventions may need to be considered and targeted differently.

Related program

Related research

Views and attitudes on the communication of suicide

Views and attitudes on the communication of suicide

Mindframe has developed practical resources for media professionals that consist of evidence-based recommendations on how to safely communicate on suicide. However, limited research has explored how the evidence that underlie these recommendations are perceived. This research aimed to gather information about media and public relations professionals’ attitudes towards the reporting of suicide; and to determine any association with their personal exposure to suicide; and their attitude towards suicide in general.

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