Australia recorded the highest number of drug-induced deaths in decades in 2016, with the death rate from Psychostimulants such as 'ice' quadrupling since 1999.
But suicide remains the biggest killer of Australians aged 15-44 years of age, and remains the leading cause of premature mortality in Australia, data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) shows.
The drug induced death rate steadily increased over a decade and now stands at 7.5 deaths per 100,000 Australians, the data showed.
"There were 1,808 drug induced deaths in 2016, with those deaths most commonly associated with Benzodiazepines and Oxycodone," James Eynstone-Hinkins, Director of Health and Vital Statistics at the ABS said.
"These are both prescription drugs which are used to manage anxiety and pain respectively."
Death rates from illicit drugs have quadrupled since 1999, with methamphetamines and the drug 'ice' now the third most common substances associated with drug deaths, with heroin being the fourth most common.
Dying in Australia by the numbers:
- There were 158,504 deaths in Australia in 2016, 5.4 per 1,000 people.
- The infant mortality is at a record low of 3.1 deaths per 1,000 live births.
- Cancers accounted for almost 30 per cent of Australian deaths in 2016.
- Lung cancer accounted for the most cancer deaths, making it the second leading cause of death for males and fourth leading cause overall.
- Colorectal cancer was the sixth leading cause of death, accounting for 5,462 deaths in 2016.
- Breast cancer was the sixth ranked cause for women, while prostate cancer was the sixth ranked for men.
- Diabetes is Australia's seventh leading cause of death, accounting for 3.0 per cent of all deaths in 2016.
- More than a million Australians live with diabetes, considered to be a contributory factor in 10.4 per cent of all deaths in 2016.
The nation's leading cause of death overall continues to be heart disease, but the number and rate of death from heart disease continues to decline.
Suicide is the leading cause of death among people 15-44 years of age and remains the leading cause of premature mortality in Australia. In 2016, suicide deaths occurred at a rate of 11.7 deaths per 100,000 people.
That's a slightly lower figure than last year, but still amounts to nearly 8 deaths a day, said Lifeline Executive Director Alan Woodward.
"Behind each of those statistics, behind the numbers, are people. Behind each of those figures is a story of tragedy," he told the ABC.
Benzodiazepines and oxycodone were the drugs most commonly associated with drug-induced deaths in 2016, according to the latest findings.— AU Bureau of Stats (@ABSStats) September 27, 2017
Some states and territories have higher suicide rates than others, he said, with Queensland seeing a noticeable decline in the suicide rate in 2016.
"It's partly all people on deck, governments, people in communities, service providers and professionals," Woodford said.
"In the last year, you've seen a lot more effort in suicide prevention which has been very good.
Dementia, including Alzheimer's disease, became the leading cause of death for women in 2016. https://t.co/9pkPvlbSXt— AU Bureau of Stats (@ABSStats) September 27, 2017
"I think the community by and large is seeing suicide is an issue in this country but it is something we can do something about.
As death rates from heart disease and stroke decrease, in 2016 dementia became the leading cause of death among Australian women
"Improvements in treatments and prevention of heart disease have contributed to increased life expectancy, but this has also led to increased deaths from conditions such as dementia which affect predominantly very elderly Australians," Eynstone-Hinkins said.