Heart Disease, Suicide as Biggest Killers in Australia: Study Found

By AAP
July 22, 2020 Updated: July 23, 2020

Suicide is the biggest killer of Australians aged between 14 and 44, a stark national study reveals.

It is also among the top five causes of death for everyone aged below 64, the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare has found.

Heart disease remains Australia’s biggest killer across all ages.

The institute has tracked causes of death across the country in a major report released on July 22.

It found one in five Australians had a mental health condition and men were more likely to die by suicide than women.

Women were more likely to self-harm, with girls in their late teens the most likely to be hospitalised for intentionally hurting themselves.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were almost twice as likely to die by suicide than non-Indigenous people.

The institute collated a range of data sets for its report, which also found one in eight Australians considered suicide in 2007.

More than 400 serving and ex-defence personnel died by suicide between 2001 and 2017, with veterans 18 percent more likely than the general population.

The report contained some projections about the impact of domestic violence on suicide rates.

If domestic violence was eradicated by 2015, there would have been almost 20 percent fewer suicides and self-harm injuries among women aged 15 and over.

There would also have been 41 percent fewer homicides or violent crimes where the victims were women, the AIHW found.

The government spent $400 per person on mental health services in 2017/18, a slight rise on previous years.

Nearly two-thirds of people who visited a GP had psychological concerns, and one in 10 Australians accessed subsidised mental health services in 2018/19.

One in six Australians are on mental health-related prescriptions, with nearly three-quarters of those for antidepressants.

The AIHW also shed light on physical health issues including obesity.

Nearly half of Australians live with a chronic health condition, most of which could be addressed through diet and exercise.

Two-thirds of adults and one-quarter of children are overweight or obese.

In Australia, the suicide prevention telephone hotline at Lifeline is 13 11 14. You can also visit the Lifeline website at lifeline.org.au. Youth can contact the Kids Helpline by phoning 1800 551 800 or visiting headspace.org.au/yarn-safe. Additional organisations include beyondblue 1300 22 4636, and 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732).

If you are in an emergency in the U.S. or Canada, please call 911. You can phone the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline on 1 800 273 8255. Youth can call the Kids Help Phone on 1800 668 6868.

Finbar O’Mallon in Canberra