In 2020, the NSW Ministry of Health, Department of Communities and Justice and NSW Police, in consultation with the NSW State Coroner, partnered together to develop the NSW Suicide Monitoring System. The system estimates the number of suspected and confirmed suicides in NSW, the aim of which is to facilitate the timely reporting of suicides and better inform local and state suicide prevention initiatives. It is one of the 15 initiatives of the Towards Zero Suicides Premier’s Priority.
The data to estimate the number of suicides comes from information collected by the Police when initially reporting the death to the Coroner. These Police notifications of suspected suicides are obtained from the “JusticeLink” court case management system managed by NSW Department of Communities and Justice. As well as the initial Police advice, records are searched for potential indicators of suicide in other fields. These include the manner or place of death, and whether the person communicated their intention to family and friends. Each potential suicide death record is then screened manually by the Department of Communities and Justice to confirm the classification of suspected or confirmed suicide.
The Suicide Monitoring System was launched by the Attorney General, Minister for Mental Health and State Coroner on 9 November 2020. A monthly report is produced and published on the NSW Health website. The report includes a breakdown of suicides by age, gender, and geography. Further reporting will be developed as additional data items are added to the system.
As NSW Health analyses more real-time data and works to develop an enhanced data set (including more information about key groups), the NSW Suicide Monitoring System will provide authoritative and accessible information to government agencies to respond to suicide in a timely and coordinated way.
Prior to the establishment of the Suicide Monitoring System, NSW relied on the Australian Bureau of Statistics Causes of Death data for information about the number of suicides in NSW. The ABS data has a delay of approximately 12 to 18 months between the death occurring and reporting being available to NSW. The Suicide Monitoring System closes this gap to weeks.
Initial reporting comparing 2019 to 2020 shows that there has not been an increase in the number of people who are suspected to have died by suicide in 2020 despite the many challenges faced during the year by the people of NSW.
The Suicide Monitoring System is hosted and administered by the Ministry of Health. The sharing of data is supported through a formal agreement between NSW Health and the Department of Communities and Justice.
The system feeds data to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare to support National Cabinet and the Australian Suicide and Self Harm Monitoring System.
The Ministry of Health, Department of Communities and Justice, the State Coroner and NSW Police will continue to work together to expand the data contained in the monitoring system. Linkage to other government datasets including Health is planned in the coming months and years.
Last updated 07 Jun 2021