Skip to content
Skip to navigation

Investigating enhancements of Indigenous data in suicide-relevant data sets

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare


Accurate and timely data about suicide and suicidal behaviour of Indigenous Australians are important to measure progress against Closing the Gap Target 14, ‘a significant and sustained reduction in suicide of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people towards zero’. Through a desktop review and consultation with stakeholders, this report found a high degree of complexity in the process of classifying, coding and interrogating data in suicide-relevant data sets. The report makes four important contributions to our understanding of the data sources that can inform efforts to reduce suicide for Indigenous Australians:

  • Provides detailed description of the key players and stages in the identification and recording of suicide and non-lethal intentional self-harm incidents among Indigenous Australians.
  • Brings together information on suicide-relevant data collections with national, state or territory coverage.
  • Identifies the sources of error in the classification of Indigenous status; of suicide as a cause of death; and of suicidal intent in cases of self-harm.
  • Describes work already underway to enhance the quality, consistency and timeliness of data collection and reporting.

It discusses further enhancements in relation to guidelines about the collection of Indigenous status; consistency in the collection of Indigenous status across jurisdictions; collaboration between agencies involved in deaths data collection; cultural safety at points of data collection; and morbidity coding systems.