Year: 2020 Source: Medical Journal of Australia. (2020). Published online 30 November 2020. doi: 10.5694/mja2.50876 SIEC No: 20200999

Objective: To assess the demographic, social, and clinical characteristics of young Australians who die by suicide.

Design: Retrospective analysis of National Coronial Information System (NCIS) data.

Setting, participants: People aged 10–24 years who died by suicide in Australia during 2006–2015.

Main outcome measures: Demographic, social, and clinical characteristics of young people who died by suicide; circumstances of death recorded in the NCIS.

Results: 3365 young people died of suicide during 2006–2015 (including 2473 boys and men, 73.5%); 1292 people (38.4%) lived in areas of greater socio‐economic disadvantage. Free text reports were included in the NCIS for 3027 people (90%), of whom 1237 (40.9%) had diagnosed mental health disorders and 475 (15.7%) had possible mental health disorders. Alcohol consumption near the time of death was detected in 1015 of 3027 cases (33.5%); histories of self‐harm were recorded in 940 cases (31.1%) and of illicit substance misuse in 852 (28.1%). Adverse life events included history of abuse or neglect (223, 7.4%), suicide of relatives, friends, or acquaintances (202, 6.7%), and financial difficulties (174, 5.8%).

Conclusions: Three‐quarters of the young people who died by suicide were boys or young men, and 57% had diagnosed or possible mental health disorders, suggesting that the mental health and wellbeing of young Australians should be a key target for youth suicide prevention. To reduce the number of youth suicides, it is imperative that prevention strategies target the mental health and psychosocial stressors that lead to suicidal crises in young people.