The mental health of Australians 2

8.1 Prevalence in the Australian population

Page last updated: May 2009

The term suicidality covers suicidal ideation (serious thoughts about taking one's own life), suicide plans and suicide attempts. People who experience suicidal ideation and make suicide plans are at increased risk of suicide attempts, and people who experience all forms of suicidal thoughts and behaviours are at greater risk of completed suicide.

At some point in their lives, 13.3% of Australians aged 16-85 years have experienced suicidal ideation, 4.0% have made suicide plans and 3.3% have attempted suicide (table 8-1). This is equivalent to over 2.1 million Australians having thought about taking their own life, over 600,000 making a suicide plan and over 500,000 making a suicide attempt during their lifetime.

In the 12 months prior to interview, 2.4% of the total population or just over 380,000 people reported some form of suicidality. Of these, 2.3% or around 370,000 people experienced suicidal ideation, 0.6% or 91,000 made suicide plans and 0.4% or 65,000 made a suicide attempt.

Table 8-1: Prevalence of lifetime and 12-month suicidality

SuicidalityLifetime prevalence (%)12 month prevalence (%)
Suicidal ideation
13.3
2.3
Suicide plans
4.0
0.6
Suicide attempts
3.3
0.4
Any suicidality
13.3
2.4

Note: Any suicidality is lower than the sum as people may have reported more than one type of suicidality in the 12 months.