Statistics

Leading causes of death in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people

The leading causes of death were heart disease, lower respiratory diseases, diabetes, 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 3,435 deaths of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in 29 (1,885 males and 1,550 females) compared to 169,301 for non-Indigenous people (88,346 males and 80,955 females).

The median age for an Indigenous person at death was 60.9 years of age, increasing from 57.1 years ten years ago. The median age for non-Indigenous people was 81.7 years in 2019, compared with 80.7 ten years ago.

The standardised death rate in 2019 was 936.7 deaths per 100,000 persons compared to 510 deaths per 100,000 for non-Indigenous people.  Over the ten years from 2010 – 2019 the standardised death rate was consistently higher for males than females and it remained relatively stable. 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

In 2019 suicide accounted for 5.7% of all deaths of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples while the comparable proportion for non- Indigenous Australians was 1.9%. Standardised death rates for suicide for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people by state or territory for the years 2009 – 2013 and 2014 – 2018.

2010 – 2014 2015 – 2019
New South Wales 9.56 11.1
Victoria 9.62 10.6
Queensland 13.76 15.58
South Australia 12.54 13.02
Western Australia 13.84 15.4
Tasmania 13.5 16.58
ACT 9.24 11.22
Northern Territory 18.48 20.04
Total – Australia 12.56 16.22

Western Australia has consistently recorded the highest death rate over the last 10 years with the lowest rates recorded in New South Wales.

There were 195 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who died from suicide in 2019, equating to a standardised death rate of 27.1 suicide deaths per 100,000 persons. In 2018, there were 169 suicide deaths at a rate of 24.1. Suicide is the fifth leading cause of death for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

There were 137 male and 58 female suicide deaths in 2019 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 30.5 years of age for males and 27.0 years of age for females.

Latest Australian Bureau of Statistics statistics released October 2019

2019 – Leading causes of death in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples

2019 – Intentional self-harm in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples

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

2019 

Suicide is the leading cause of death for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous children 5 – 17 years between 2015 – 2019. Suicide
accounts for one-third (32.4%) of all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander child deaths. Children aged 15 – 17 years accounted for almost 80% of all child suicides among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. In 2019 the suicide rates for young people 5 – 19 years is around four times the rate of non-Indigenous 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.