Statistics

Leading causes of death in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people

The leading causes of death were heart disease, diabetes, lower respiratory diseases, malignant neoplasm of trachea, bronchus and lung and intentional self harm/suicide. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people can expect to die about 8 years earlier than non-Indigenous people.

There were 3,218 deaths of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in 2018 (1,780 males and 1,438 females) compared to 158,493 for non-Indigenous people (82,320 males and 76,173 females).

The median age at death was 60.2 years of age, increasing from 55.8 years ten years ago. The median age for non-Indigenous people was 82.0 years in 2018, compared with 80.7 ten years ago.

The standardised death rate in 2018 was 910 deaths per 100,000 persons compared to 510 deaths per 100,000 for non-Indigenous people.  This compares to a death rate of 933.2 deaths per 100,000 ten years ago in 2009 compared to 610 deaths per 100,000 for non-Indigenous people. Rates have fluctuated for both males and females over the past decade, but there has been little change overall. The mortality rates for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people for 2009 to 2018 are presented in the graph below.

Intentional self-harm (suicide) in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people by States and Territories

Standardised death rates for suicide for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people by state or territory for the years 2009 – 2013 and 2014 – 2018.

2009-2013 2014-2018
New South Wales 11 17.1
Queensland 20.7 24.0
South Australia 20.4 21.2
Western Australia 34.4 37.9
Northern Territory 29.1 26.2
Total 20.2 23.7

Western Australia has consistently recorded the highest death rate over the last 10 years with the lowest rates recorded in New South Wales. Victoria, Tasmania and ACT have insufficient levels of identification and insufficient numbers of deaths to support mortality analysis.

There were 169 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who died from suicide in 2018, equating to a standardised death rate of 24.1 suicide deaths per 100,000 persons. In 2017, there were 165 suicide deaths at a rate of 24.2. Suicide is the fifth leading cause of death for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

There were 129 male and 40 female suicide deaths in 2018 with standardised death rates of 38.1 and 10.3 respectively. As such the sex ratio (76.3% male, 23.7% female) is very similar to that recorded for all suicide deaths. The median age for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander suicide deaths was 31.8 years of age for males and 26.0 years of age for females.

Australian Bureau of Statistics statistics released – 25 September 2019

2018 – Leading causes of death in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples

2018 – Intentional self-harm in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples

Suicide deaths of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people

2018

For the purposes of the following analysis, children are defined as those between 5 and 17 years of age. In 2018, suicide remaining the leading cause of death for both Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous children, accounting for more than a quarter (26.5%) of all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander child deaths. Children aged 15 to 17 accounted for 69.2% of all child suicides, while females accounted for more than half (61.5%) of child suicide deaths.

Over the five years from 2014 to 2018, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children accounted for close to a quarter of all child suicide deaths (85 of 357 deaths, 23.8%). The age-specific death rate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander child suicide was 8.3 deaths per 100,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, compared to 2.1 per 100,000 for non-Indigenous children.

2017

For the purposes of the following analysis, children and young people are defined as those aged between 5 and 17 years of age. In 2017, suicide remained the leading cause of death for both Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous children and young people, accounting for 40% of all Indigenous child deaths. Those aged 15-17 contributed to 94.4% of all suicide deaths in young Indigenous people. When considering gender differences, 91.6% of Indigenous male youth suicides were aged 15-17. There were no female Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander suicide deaths under the age of 15 in 2017.

Over the 5 years from 2013 to 2017, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people accounted for more than a quarter of all suicide deaths in this age group (93 of 358 deaths, 26.0%). The age-specific death rate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people was 10.1 deaths per 100,000 persons, compared to 2.0 per 100,000 for non-Indigenous persons.

Australian Bureau of Statistics statistics released – 25 September 2018

2017 – Leading causes of death in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples

2017 – Intentional self-harm in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples

Map

This map was  undertaken in 2016 and since then there have been many workshops, summits and conferences. It is included here as it shows the growing national engagement by communities to seek solutions to suicide prevention.