Australia: Age and Sex Differentials

Excerpt from Australian Social Trends 2000. Published by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Since 1921 the maile suicide rate has been consistently higher and more volatile than the female rate. Therefore, variations in the overall suicide rate were largely attribuable to changes in the male rate.

The profile of age specific death rates did not change substantially from the early 1920s to the late 1970s. After this period there were gradual but marked increases for men aged 25-44 and decreases for men aged 45 and over. The trends were similar for women, although the changes were smaller.

In 1921-25 suicides generally increased with age; by 1996-98 suicides were most common in the 25-44 year age groups and then generally declined slightly with age.

The biggest increase in deaths from suicide between 1921 and 1998 has been in the 15-24 years age group for men (rising from 8.6 deaths per 100,000 men in 1921-25 to 27.7 in 1996-98), and in the 75 and older age group for women (from 2.1 per 100,000 women in 1921-25 to 6.2 in 1996-98).

The ratio of men to women who commit suicide is not a reflection of the ratio of men to women who attempt suicide. According to results from the 1997 Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing of Adults, women were about twice as likely as men to have attempted suicide in the 12 months prior to the interview. Reasons for the differences in attemps at suicide and completed suicides between men and women are not fully understood.

Return to Australia: Suicides Since 1921

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