Australian suicide rates increased in 2017, new data shows

AUSTRALIA’S national suicide rate increased by more than nine percent last year, it has been revealed.

New preliminary data, released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, shows the national suicide rate jumped to 12.7 deaths per 100,000 last year, up from 11.8 deaths per 100,000 in 2016.

Of the 160,909 people who died in Australia in 2017, the ‘Causes of Death Australia 2017’ report reveals 3,128 of them – 2,348 males and 708 females – took their own life.


That’s 262 more suicides than the year before – or an increase of 9.1 percent – and exceeds the World Health Organisation’s global average suicide mortality rate of 10.5 deaths per 100,000.

This year, the report also addressed comorbidity for the first time, showing 43 percent of people who died by suicide in 2017 were living with a mood disorder like depression.

More than 29 percent had a drug and alcohol use disorder, while 17.5 percent were living with anxiety.

Suicide Prevention Australia CEO Nieves Murray says people who die by suicide are more than just a number – they’re our mothers, fathers, sons and daughters, friends and colleagues.

“We’d like to acknowledge everyone who’s been impacted by suicide in 2017,” Ms Murray said.

“Unfortunately, what these numbers show is that suicide is a growing public health concern for all Australians. As hopeless as these numbers seem, however, there is hope.”

Ms Murray said empowering people to talk about suicide is one of the most effective ways to prevent it.

“To reduce suicide rates in Australia we need everyone to talk safely about suicide every day. We want people to know, you can talk about suicide and we’re here to help.

“We must use this data to strengthen our resolve. To each take personal responsibility for preventing suicide.

“By speaking up when we suspect someone is struggling. By supporting people with lived experience of suicide and those working at the front line of suicide prevention and crisis support.

“There are thousands of Australians working collaboratively together, in governments, in suicide prevention, in health care, in workplaces, in schools and communities.

“Together we can achieve a meaningful reduction in suicide in Australia,” she said.

Ms Murray said that working collaboratively to prevent suicide is particularly important when supporting people living with a complex mental illness or drug or alcohol addiction.

“From previous research, we know that people living with a complex mental illness are 13-45 times more likely to take their own life their own life than those living without mental illness,” she said.

“That’s why it’s so important that the mental health and suicide prevention sectors work together.”

Suicide Prevention Australia and SANE Australia recently released a joint Position Statement on Mental Health and Suicide Prevention.

Ms Murray says that in addition to collaborating on policy, the mental health and suicide prevention sectors are developing and implementing innovative programs and services to prevent more avoidable deaths, like LifeSpan.

“Delivered by the Black Dog Institute, LifeSpan is an evidence-based approach to integrated suicide prevention that’s predicted to prevent 21% of suicide deaths and 30% of suicide attempts,” she said.

“The reasons why people die by suicide are varied and complex, so to prevent it we need flexible, scalable solutions that account for this diversity.”

The federal government has announced it will invest more than $36 million in national suicide prevention projects to raise awareness and support Australians who may be at risk.

“Suicide Prevention Australia looks forward to continuing to play a leadership role by supporting, collaborating with and advocating for the suicide prevention sector,” Ms Murray said.

“Importantly, this funding will enable SPA Members to continue working closely with Australian workplaces, families, schools and communities to learn from people with lived experience and share suicide prevention tools.”

To get help 24/7, phone Lifeline on 13 11 14 or the Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467. If you or someone you know are in immediate danger, phone 000 for emergency services.

If you are in immediate danger call 000 now.  If you require advice or assistance, the following services can offer counselling and support:
Lifeline 13 11 14
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Beyond Blue 1300 22 4636
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Kids Helpline 1800 55 1800
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MensLine Australia 1300 789 978
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