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Leading Cause of Death Australia

Australia’s health and mortality rates have changed considerably over recent decades, and we should be aware of these changes so that we can move forward as a nation to a healthier future. 

By learning about how we are living and dying, we can make healthier choices to prolong our life expectancy. 


Leading Causes of Death

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), in 2020, the leading causes of death in high-income countries were: 

  1. Ischaemic Heart Disease
  2. Alzheimer’s Disease
  3. Stroke – learn the symptoms of a stroke
  4. Trachea, Bronchus and Lung Cancers
  5. Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease
  6. Lower Respiratory Infections
  7. Colon and Rectum Cancers
  8. Kidney Diseases
  9. Hypertensive Heart Disease
  10. Diabetes Mellitus

In 2019, stroke and ischaemic heart disease accounted for about 1.2 million deaths, while 2.9 million people died from these cardiovascular diseases combined. In Australia, stroke overtook Alzheimer’s as the second highest cause of death in 2019, with Alzheimer’s accounting for 65% of deaths among Australian women that year.

The causes of death have changed dramatically in the last two decades. Deaths from HIV/Aids have decreased by 51% globally, and Kidney disease has risen from the world’s 13th cause of death to the 10th.

Whilst in Australia alone, the Australian Bureau of Statistics found that the leading causes of death were similar to those of high income countries, as shown on the chart below. 

Leading Causes of Death

Leading Cause of Death for Indigenous Australians

The leading causes of death for Indigenous Australians in 2018 were: 

  1. Circulatory Diseases
  2. Cancer
  3. Respiratory Diseases
  4. Diabetes & External Causes
  5. Kidney Diseases

Indigenous Australians are more likely than non-indigenous Australians to experience chronic diseases such as, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and respiratory diseases. They are also more likely to experience mental health problems

In an effort to “close the gap”, the Australian Government is trying to provide improve access to Medicare, medicines, extra free immunisations and programs to reduce the high rates of smoking among indigenous people. 

Leading Broad Cause of Deadth for Indigenous Australians

Intentional Self Harm

The World Health Organization reported that 800,000 people died of suicide in 2016. Suicide is a global issue that affects all age groups, with the highest proportion of deaths by suicide occurring among young and middle-aged adults. In 2018, 75% of people who died from suicide were male.

The rate of indigenous suicide has increased over time. In recent years, the rate of indigenous suicide was double that of non-indigenous Australians.

Where Can I Get Help?

Mental health is a serious issue for many people. Not only does it affect their life, but also the lives of those around them. Whether they are struggling or simply want to prevent future problems, there are many resources available for them:

Head to Health
Beyond Blue 
Black Dog Institute

First Aid Pro also offers courses in Mental Health First AidYouth Mental First Aid, and Mental Health First Aid Refreshers.

Mental Health First Aid is an informational course that will give you the tools to recognize and respond to signs of distress. If you’re not sure how to help a friend or family member who’s struggling with the debilitating effects of common mental health conditions, this course is for you. The course benefits people who also manage staff members and those working in government, social services, and health care.