Australian Suicide Trends 1964-1997: Youth and Beyond?
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Objective: To examine Australian suicide rates across all ages, and compare Australian rates with those of other Western nations. Design: Australian Bureau of Statistics data were used to examine Australian suicide trends, 1964-1997, by age and sex. For comparison, suicide rates of 22 other Western nations, 1990-1994, were obtained from the World Health Organization. Results: Australian suicide rates for males 15-24 years and 25-34 years rose from 1964-1997. Comparable rates for females showed no significant change. Suicide rates for several of the older age and sex groups declined over this period. Comparison with suicide rates of other Western nations showed that, while Australian youth suicide rates are relatively high, this is not the case for older age groups. Australian suicide rates are higher than those in the European nations of origin of our major migrant groups, but similar to those of other Western nations also recently colonised by Europeans (Canada, the United States and New Zealand). Conclusions: Priorities for suicide prevention in Australia are correctly concentrated on youth, but the targeted age range should be extended to include men aged 25-34 years. A comprehensive policy should also not neglect the needs of other age groups. Further epidemiological study of national and international data may suggest new approaches to suicide prevention.
Medical Journal of Australia