NCIS media release

29 May 2019

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Intentional self-harm among older persons

Fact sheet released 30 May 2019
Read the fact sheet

NCIS fact sheet highlights frequency of self-harm deaths among older persons

An average of seven older people die by suicide in Australia each week, according to a new report released by the National Coronial Information System (NCIS).

The fact sheet Intentional self-harm deaths of older persons in Australia examined all closed case intentional self-harm deaths of persons aged 65 years or over reported to an Australian coroner between 1 January 2001 and 31 December 2016.

The fact sheet includes frequencies, proportions and rates of intentional self-harm deaths among older persons reported to an Australian state or territory coroner. The variables included are: year of notification, jurisdiction of investigation, age range, sex, marital status, incident location type and mechanism of injury. For comparison purposes, the fact sheet includes data on intentional self-harm deaths of persons aged under 65 years.

The report reviewed the circumstances of 5,686 intentional self-harm deaths of persons aged 65 years or over reported in Australia and made a number of key findings, including:

  • The highest rate of suicide for older persons for 2016 occurred among those aged 85–89 years (17.4 deaths per 100,000 persons).
  • Intentional self-harm deaths occurred most frequently among those who were married or in a de facto relationship (51.8 per cent), followed by those who were widowed (25.3 per cent).
  • Older men were at greatest risk, accounting for more than three quarters of intentional self-harm deaths (76.8 per cent).

Additional information

All NCIS fact sheets are publicly available on the NCIS website.

The NCIS is a data repository containing information about deaths reported to a coroner in Australia and New Zealand. The NCIS was launched in 2000 in response to recommendations from the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody.

Information contained within the NCIS helps identify systemic issues, patterns, or trends and aids coronial recommendations aimed at preventing similar deaths from occurring in the future. NCIS fact sheets is available for reproduction with appropriate citation.


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