Data and statistics

It is important to remember that each number presented in suicide causes of death data represents an individual life lost, a life which was valued and will be missed.

Mindframe acknowledges the individuals, families, carers, colleagues and communities impacted by suicide each year in Australia.

Statistics referencing suicide can provide context and are drawn upon in policy and decision making, media and communications and raising community awareness.

In Australia, data related to suicide is collected and shared by multiple sources.

Quick reference guide for communicating safely about suicide and self-harm data

Use this quick reference guide with the Mindframe guidelines to assist safe, accurate reporting when communicating about suicide and self-harm data.

Australian Bureau of Statistics

Data is sourced from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), providing in-depth data and information about suicide related deaths in the annual Causes of Death data.

The ABS provides preliminary and final data on the number and rates of deaths by ‘intentional self-harm’ in Australia each year as well as contextual or associated information such as comorbidity and psychosocial factors.

The National Suicide and Self-Harm Monitoring System

The National Suicide and Self-Harm Monitoring System was launched in 2020 to improve the quality, accessibility and timeliness of data on suicide and self-harm in Australia.

The Monitoring System includes the most reliable and up to date data on suicide and suicide behaviour including data from state-based suicide registers, ambulance attendance and hospitalisations as well as geographic and trend analysis.

The Monitoring System is coordinated by the National Suicide Prevention Office and the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).

Additional information for stakeholders

Mindframe works to support media and communications professionals as an important source of information to help ensure that the quality of reporting and portrayal of suicide is safe and accurate.

The National Suicide and Self-Harm monitoring System and ABS Causes of Death data contain complex and highly specific figures. Media are encouraged to use safe and responsible language when reporting or communicating on these.

Consider the following when communicating about any suicide-related data to the public:

  • It is important to remember that each of these numbers does not just represent an individual life lost, but also the family, friends and communities who are grieving the loss of each of those numbers
  • Be mindful of the frequency suicide statistics are being reported in the community. With data now being released monthly media is advised to consider fluctuations in data and to take care in making short term comparison
  • Include the experiences of grief and loss in your reporting, to encourage validation of these feelings
  • Keep material within context by seeking expert input
  • Include help-seeking services and information when reporting
  • Refrain from focusing in on suicide statistics from single locations, instead focus on the needs of those communities and seek input from the local suicide prevention sector
  • Be mindful that data on suicide deaths may fluctuate from one period to the next. Comparisons between populations should be interpreted with caution and reported in context
  • All causes of death data related to suicide is subject to a revision process before becoming finalised. This may result in a change in the number or rates of suicide deaths for a specific period of time due to a lag in coronial processes. We recommend reporting on suicide rates, as opposed to numbers of deaths.

There are still areas that require support in terms of suicide prevention. Allowing the sector to come together and renew its commitment to suicide prevention as individuals, as services, as communities and as governments across Australia will enable the data to be used accurately and safely.

When reporting, interpreting and sharing suicide information or data the suicide prevention and mental health sector are asked to be cautious in their messaging, language and how statistics can be used in context.

Terminology used in suicide-related data

Term Definition

What is a trend?

A trend is defined as a pattern of change in a period of time. In our analysis we look at five year trends.

What do we mean by numbers?

In the ABS Causes of Death data, this refers to the number of deaths registered during the reference period.

Age-specific death rate

Age Specific Death Rates (ASDRs) are the number of registered deaths divided by the estimated number of a resident population in a specific age group. This is often expressed as per 100,000 deaths.

Standardised death rate

Age-standardised rates are hypothetical rates that would have been observed if the populations being studied had the same age distribution as the standard population, while all other factors remained unchanged. This is often expressed as per 100,000 deaths.


The occurrence of two or more health condition in a person at one time. These conditions should not be attributed as a contributing factor.

Psychosocial factors

Psychosocial factors refer to the combination of social factors and psychological factors. 'Social factors' refer to general factors concerned with social structure and social processes, while 'psychological factors' refer to individual-level processes and meanings that influence mental states.

Revisions process

Deaths certified by a doctor are usually the result of natural causes. Coroners certify the majority of deaths that occur by unknown and external causes (accidents, assaults and suicides).

The coronial process can take several years if an inquest is being held or complex investigations are being undertaken. Therefore, the causes or factors associated with a death may change over time as the death is investigated.

All deaths that have been referred to the coroner undergo an annual revisions process and adjustments made to the data as required.

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