Suicide in Australia: Rates fall during first year of pandemic

A new report reveals suicide rats have fallen across the country. Source: Getty

WARNING: This article mentions suicide.

A confronting new report from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), which was released on Wednesday, has shed light on the number of suicide deaths in the past year. Surprisingly, suicide rates have dropped.

The Causes of Death report revealed that there had been far fewer suicide deaths in 2020, falling to just 12.1 suicide deaths per 100,000 people. This is a decrease from 12.7 deaths per 100,000 people in 2019.

Also outlined in the report were common risk factors for suicide, with the most common across all age groups 25 and older being mood disorders, including depression. Older people who died by suicide were more likely to have had a higher proportion of chronic health conditions, including cancer, coronary heart disease and diabetes, while those who were younger were more likely to have issues with finances, employment and substance abuse. 

Across 2020, Australia’s overall mortality rate had a decrease, with a standard death rate of 488.8 people dying, per every 100,000 people. This is down from 519.1 people dying per 100,000 people in 2019. 

In Australia, there were 898 deaths as a result of Covid-19 in 2020, making it Australia’s 38th largest killer.  The median death age for those who passed away with Covid-19 was 86 years old. The most common pre-existing condition to have was dementia, with 275 people dying with both dementia and Covid-19. 

Other than dementia, the next most common comorbidities were chronic cardiac conditions, hypertension and also diabetes. 

The top five leading causes of death in Australia in 2020 were:

  1. Ischaemic heart disease
  2. Dementia, including Alzheimer’s Disease
  3. Cerebrovascular diseases 
  4. Lung cancer
  5. Chronic Lower Respiratory Diseases

Deaths due to chronic lower respiratory diseases, like emphysema, had the largest decrease in death rate of the top five causes, falling by 17.7 per cent. 

The report came the same day Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg announced that lockdown payments would be wound backwards as regions approach their 80 per cent vaccination rate targets. 

The new report comes a few weeks after a report by Suicide Prevention Australia revealed one in four Australians knew a person who had died by suicide during the pandemic

MENTAL HEALTH DISCLAIMER: If you or anyone you know needs help: Lifeline — 13 11 14; MensLine Australia — 1300 789 978; BeyondBlue — 1300 224 636; Suicide Call Back Service — 1300 659 467; Headspace — 1800 650 890; Kids Helpline — 1800 551 800


IMPORTANT LEGAL INFO This article is of a general nature and FYI only, because it doesn’t take into account your personal health requirements or existing medical conditions. That means it’s not personalised health advice and shouldn’t be relied upon as if it is. Before making a health-related decision, you should work out if the info is appropriate for your situation and get professional medical advice.

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