The Top 5 Causes of Accidental Death in Australia

  Cause of Death Number of Deaths % of Total Deaths
1 Road accidents 1,226 54%
2 Poisoning 576 25%
3 Falls 244 11%
4 Drowning 149 6%
5 Choking 82 4%
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 Special Report
  1. The age of 40 is found to be statistically the most dangerous year of life in Australia with 2,277 accidental deaths recorded in five accident categories. The findings challenge commonly held beliefs that risk taking adolescents are most likely to die from accidental causes. (1.)
  2. Males accounted for 74 percent of all road fatalities, while 17-25 year old males accounted for 21.5 percent of all road deaths. These findings reiterate commonly held beliefs that young males are the most accident prone on roads in Australia. However, and going some way to affirming the year of living dangerously, 39 year old males were more dangerous on Australian roads than 24 year old males recording more deaths than the younger age, according to the Department of Infrastructure and Transport online database. (1.)
  3. 260 more males died of poisoning then females in Australia in 2008, with total deaths (576) representing 25 percent of all accidental deaths. Generation X represented a significant percentage (28 percent) of the total number of deaths in this category. Most poisonings are caused by alcohol, narcotics (for example, heroin or methadone), sedatives, psychotropic drugs (for example, antidepressants), antiepileptic and anti-inflammatory drugs. Poisoning deaths from animals such as snakes are rare and are considered statistically insignificant when compared with other accidental poisonings such as alcohol or drugs. (1,2.)
  4. Falls accounted for 244 accidental deaths, representing 11 percent of all accidental deaths in Australia and ranked third of the top five categories. The ABS identifies ‘Falls’ as the only category where females registered more deaths then males (703 compared to 645). Australia’s aging population significantly contributed to deaths caused by falling, with those aged 55 - 74 years representing 82 percent of all deaths. (1.)
  5. Australia’s youth are significant contributors to the nation’s accidental drowning numbers with those aged between 1-14 years recording 29 accidental deaths in this category. The numbers of youth deaths highlight the significant social issue of drowning in Australia, especially in backyard pools. Of the 82 incidences of death by choking, those aged 55 - 74 years old were more susceptible representing 56 percent of the total number of accidental deaths in this category. The gender ratio was not significant, however males did record higher incidences of accidental death in the accidental choking category. (1.)
Top 5 facts sources:
  1. Suncorp Life. (2016). "The Year of Living Dangerously"
  2. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. (2015). Leading cause of premature mortality in Australia fact sheet: accidental poisoning. Cat. no. PHE 201. Canberra: AIHW.
Tags: Death Statistics, Health Statistics, Leading Causes of Death, Australia

Sources:  Suncorp Life Accident Series (2011): “The Year of Living Dangerously."

List Notes: Data is the average age of death across five categories of cause of accidental death among Australians aged up to 74 years. Data on other International Classification of Diseases categories of external death, such as suicide, as well as accidental deaths among Australians aged 75 years or older have been excluded from this top 5 list.
Causes of Accidental Death in Australia

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