Suicide is still the leading cause of death for Australians between 15 and 44 years of age, with 85,032 potential years of life lost in 2013, the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) says.
Yesterday’s release of cause-of-death data from the ABS shows the number of younger Australians taking their own lives is still proportionally high.
In 2013 there were 2,520 suicide deaths nationwide, down slightly from the previous year, the ABS data shows.
The ABS warned that number would likely grow as more deaths by suicide for 2013 were confirmed by looking at coroners reports, an ABS spokesperson said.
The rates among Indigenous Australians are worse than non-Indigenous Australians, and the reasons for this still need more research, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Advisory Group Co-chair Tom Calma said.
"We're mapping all the suicides that have taken place in the past 10 years," Dr Calma said.
It is hoped that study, due to be published in August, will reveal the reason why Indigenous Australians are committing suicide at higher rates, Dr Calma said.
Intentional self harm, defined as a category of suicide when lethal, ranked as the 14th largest contributor to deaths in 2013 across all age groups.
Beyond Blue Chief Executive Officer Georgie Harman said for friends and loved ones, stopping someone ending their own life can start with asking a hard question.
“Are you thinking about killing yourself,” was a hard, but effective question, Ms Harman said.
“We know from research that… that’s exactly what men in particular want people to ask them.”
If there was an immediate danger of harm, people should call emergency services (000), Ms Harman said.
When suicide was not compared to other causes of death, the suicide rate was highest in the 85 or older age group.
However, young Australians were more likely to have ended their own lives (compared to all deaths) than Australians in older age groups.
Intentional self-harm was the biggest contributor to years of potential life lost (including all deaths under the age of 78) compared to other leading causes of death in 2013.
“A total of 85,032 years of potential life lost was due to this cause, even though it was the 14th leading cause of all deaths in 2013,” the ABS said.
The number of suicides has increased, but so has Australia’s population, and the rate of suicides for all Australians grew from 1.6 in 2003 per cent to 1.7 in 2013.
Help is available
Chief executive for the 24/7 phone support service Lifeline, Jane Hayden, said the service would answer 820,000 calls this financial year.
“It’s important to remember that behind each suicide statistic are real people facing loss and distress,” Ms Hayden said.
Some calls came from concerned loved ones, not from people considering ending their lives.
In 2014, Lifeline received its highest amount of calls – 930,000 - since the charity was established in 1963.
However, their team could only answer 795,000 of those calls, Ms Hayden said.
Lifeline encourages people to talk about suicide, learn about suicide prevention and connect with each other to save lives.
Need to talk?
In an emergency, with a risk of harm to yourself or others, call emergency services by dialing 000.
The support hotlines below can assist at all hours, every day, for people considering ending their lives or for people who are worried about people they know.