Suicidal Presentations to Emergency Departments in a Large Australian Public Health Service over 10 Years

Nicolas J C Stapelberg, Jerneja Sveticic, Ian Hughes, Kathryn Turner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

27 Citations (Scopus)
70 Downloads (Pure)


This paper presents trends and characteristics for 32,094 suicidal presentations to two Emergency Departments (EDs) in a large health service in Australia across a 10-year period (2009-2018). Prevalence of annual suicidal presentations and for selected groups of consumers (by sex, age groups, and ethnicity) was determined from a machine learning diagnostic algorithm developed for this purpose and a Bayesian estimation approach. A linear increase in the number of suicidal presentations over 10 years was observed, which was 2.8-times higher than the increase noted in all ED presentations and 6.1-times higher than the increase in the population size. Females had higher presentation rates than males, particularly among younger age groups. The highest rates of presentations were by persons aged 15-24. Overseas-born persons had around half the rates of suicidal presentations than Australian-born persons, and Indigenous persons had 2.9-times higher rates than non-Indigenous persons. Of all presenters, 70.6% presented once, but 5.7% had five or more presentations. Seasonal distribution of presentations showed a peak at the end of spring and a decline in winter months. These findings can inform the allocation of health resources and guide the development of suicide prevention strategies for people presenting to hospitals in suicidal crisis.

Original languageEnglish
Article number5920
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number16
Publication statusPublished - 14 Aug 2020


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