Released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW), the research analyses the differences in death rates among the country’s different age groups. It shows that chronic disease continues to be the major cause of death among people aged over 45, with suicide the leading cause among people aged 15-44.
Coronary heart disease (CHD) was the most common underlying cause of death in Australia for people aged over 45, followed by cerebrovascular disease, cancers, dementia and Alzheimer disease and respiratory conditions.
The good news however, is we are living longer according to the AIHW, there were 147,678 deaths in Australia in 2013, two-thirds of which were in people aged over 75 years. Among OECD countries in 2012, Australian men improved their ranking from 6th to 3rd, while Australian women remained steady at 7th. Current life expectancy figures show that an Australian girl born in 2011—13 can expect to live to 84.3 years and an Australian boy can expect to live to the age of 80.1 years.
While the news we are living longer may sound good, research released in August last year reveals it will come at a cost, as our quality of life isn’t increasing at the same rapid rate. Not only will we be forced to work longer to support ourselves in our older age, but we will need thousands more aged care workers to cope. In just three decades, Australia will have more people aged over 60 than under 20, and more than 1.6 million people aged over 85, according to McCrindle Research which provided a startling insight into future ageing and population projections.
Research founder Mark McCrindle warned that while our life expectancy looks great, the quality of our life might not be so rosy as medical intervention meant people were living longer but it came at a cost.
Around 2,000 Australians die from suicide each year, and for every person who dies from suicide, at least another 30 people attempt suicide. There is no doubt that depression is a major cause. Of those who have killed themselves, many have experienced depression or bipolar disorder.
Risk factors for suicide
Contributing factors to suicide may include:
- Depression – many people who suicide have experienced depression. This may be the result of another mental illness.
- Psychosis – some people suicide because they are confused as a result of their hallucinations or because they want to get away from the symptoms.
- Drugs and alcohol – misuse of marijuana, heroin, amphetamines and alcohol is closely related to suicidal behaviour.
1. News.com.au 2015, Suicide, chronic disease among Australia’s biggest killers
2. AIHW 2015, Chronic disease responsible for most deaths in older age groups, suicide in young people
3. Betterhealth.vic.gov.au 2015, Suicide and mental illness
Dr. Rayman Wu is a fully qualified acupuncturist and Chinese herbal medicine practitioner. He has special interest and substantial experience in treating chronic conditions including depression, anxiety, hypertension, diabetes, dementia and Alzheimer disease. Call 03 8839 0748 or make online appointment to see how Chinese medicine can help.