The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has released the Causes of Death data for 2019. The data shows that there were 3,318 deaths by suicide, compared to 3,138 deaths in 2018. All states and territories, except for Queensland, had a rise in the number of suicide deaths.
Consistent over the last ten years, the number of suicide deaths was approximately three times higher in males than females. Suicide was the 10th leading cause of death for males and the 22nd leading cause for females.
Mood disorders (including depression) was the most common comorbid factor associated with suicide, reported in 40.6% of all suicides. The second most common comorbid factor was drug and alcohol use disorders at 28.7%. Anxiety and stress-related disorders were associated with 18.4% of suicide deaths. Our data for Suicide Call Back Service and SuicideLine Victoria also showed that approximately 19% of our clients reported having anxiety.
Approximately 64% of all suicide deaths were found to have one or more associated psychosocial risk factors identified. Psychosocial factors are social processes and social structures that can have an interaction with individual thought, behaviour and/or health outcomes. The most commonly reported risk factor for people under 34 years was ‘personal history of self harm’. For people over 65 years, the most commonly reported risk factor was ‘limitation of activities due to disability or other chronic health condition’. It is important to note that the presence of one or more risk factors does not indicate the presence of suicidal behaviour in any one individual.
On the Line CEO, Samantha Fredericks, said: “At On the Line, we extend our sympathy to the families, friends and communities affected by suicide. The recent ABS Causes of Death data showing an increase in suicide deaths is distressing and indicates that there is still a lot of work to do.
“Suicide prevention continues to be a major focus for On the Line. Across our suicide prevention helplines, SuicideLine Victoria and Suicide Call Back Service, we have seen an increase in calls, particularly since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. On the Line will continue to increase our capacity and enhance our services, to ensure we can provide professional counselling support to everyone who needs it. The release of this data is a timely reminder that we must continue to work together and reach out to support our friends, family, work colleagues and community.”
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