The Australian Bureau of Statistics causes of death data provides important information each year about the rates of suicide in our community.

3,139 deaths were recorded as lives lost to suicide in 2020, and despite being the lowest rate recorded since 2016, it still equates to almost nine lives lost every single day.

Breakthrough Executive Director John Mannion said it was important to remember that the data presented represents a lost life that was valued and is missed.

“Every death by suicide has a huge impact on families, friends, colleagues and the community.

“Some of the identified at risk groups including men – who are three times more likely to die by suicide than women; as well as suicide being the most common cause of death for adults aged between 15-44 – continues to be extremely concerning.

“Our hope with this data is that we can focus on research and early prevention to identify what is driving this and make effective changes.”

Suicide Prevention Australia CEO Nieves Murray said the decline in suicide rates in 2020 was welcome news.

“Any reduction in deaths by suicide is a positive sign yet these rates remain too high, and we need to continue our focus on turning the trend towards zero suicides.

“While this data includes the period of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s important to note suicide is complex, multi-factorial human behaviour with many associated risk factors.”


  • 3,139 Australians died by suicide in 2020, which represents an age-standardised suicide death rate of 12.1 per 100,000 people.
  • This is a decrease of around 6.6% compared with the 12.9 age-standardised suicide death rate reported for 2019.
  • However, over the previous 10 years the age-standardised suicide death rate per 100,000 people has increased from 10.5 in 2011 to 12.1 in 2020, an increase of 15.2%.
  • Suicide was the 15th most common cause of death overall (down from 13th in 2019), accounting for 1.9% of deaths.
  • The median age of death by suicide was 43.5 years, compared to 81.7 years for all causes of death. Because suicide frequently occurs at a younger age than other causes of death the potential years of life lost are high. As in in previous years, in 2020 suicide was the cause of death resulting in the highest number of potential years of life lost: 109,525 years. This was more than half again (57.7%) as many years higher as the next most significant cause.


In 2020, over 90 per cent of people who died by suicide had at least one risk factor reported. Both mental and behavioural disorders and psychosocial risk factors were present in over two-thirds of deaths of people who died by suicide. People who died by suicide had an average of 3-4 risk factors mentioned.

For more information on the report visit the National Mental Health Commission.

If you are struggling, remember you are not alone. Help is available.
Lifeline Australia Crisis Support: 13-11-14
Emergency number: 000

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