Suicide, Australia, 2001-2010.

The suicide rate in Australia has decreased by 17% over the past decade, from 12.7 to 10.5 deaths per 100,000 people, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) Report, Suicide, Australia, 2001-2010.

Suicide remains the leading cause of death among Australians between 15 and 34 years of age. Suicide rates for males in this age group have decreased over the past 10 years, with decreases of 34% for 15-24 year olds, and 46% for 25-34 year olds, while for other age groups the suicide rate has remained more stable. There has been little change in the suicide rate for females across all age groups over the past decade. Males account for approximately 3 in 4 suicide deaths.

New South Wales was found to have the lowest suicide rate at 8.6 deaths per 100,000 people for the period 2006-2010, while suicide rates were highest in the Northern Territory at 20.2 deaths per 100,000 people for the same period. Rural areas were found to have a higher suicide rate than capital city statistical divisions.

Suicide rates for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are approximately twice those of non-Indigenous Australians. Rates are particularly high amongst younger (15-34 year old) Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. The age-specific suicide rate for 25-29 year old Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander males was 90.8 deaths per 100,000 people for the combined 10 year period.

Media Release

ABS accused of putting a spin on suicide rates

The Australian Bureau of Statistics has been accused of dishonesty and spin in its reporting of national suicide rates, with leading mental health experts saying it has obscured a rise in deaths. The ABS yesterday hailed a 17% fall in suicides over the past decade, from 12.7 deaths per 100,000 people in 2001 to 10.5 in 2010.

The Executive Director of the Brain and Mind Research Institute at the University of Sydney, Ian Hickie, said the data was being misrepresented as 2001 had a high number of suicides, creating the appearance of a fall. He said the data showed the suicide rate in the latter part of the decade had been steady, or even increased. ''The analysis is entirely unhelpful,'' he said.

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