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Leading Cause of Death in Australia

To maintain a healthy future, Australians need to use Mortality data and understand what leads people to death.

The leading causes of death in high-income countries, according to The World Health Organization in 2020, were:


  1. Ischaemic Heart Disease
  2. Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias
  3. 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


Between 2000 and 2019, the number of deaths caused by strokes and ischaemic heart disease decreased. Despite this, the combined figure for deaths due to Alzheimer’s overtook those from a stroke in Australia in 2019. Globally, 65% of all women died with Alzheimer’s as their cause in that year.

The causes of death have changed dramatically in the past two decades. Deaths from HIV/AIDS were reduced by 51% globally, and kidney disease went from the 13th leading cause of death to 10th place overall.

Mortality increased overall from 813,000 in 2000 to 1.3 million in 2019.


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 to experience chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes and respiratory illnesses. They also have a greater risk of experiencing mental health problems than non-indigenous Australians.

The Australian Government is trying to close the gap between indigenous people and non-indigenous citizens by providing free immunisations, extra Medicare benefits, tobacco cessation programs, and other initiatives.

Leading Cause of Death

Self Harm (Intentional)

In 2016, the World Health Organization reports that 800,000 people died of suicide worldwide. Suicide is a serious issue affecting both adults and children alike – it’s highest among young and middle-aged adults.

75% of people who died from suicide in 2018 were male. 

The rate of indigenous suicide has increased over time from 2014-2018 and is double that of non-indigenous Australians.

Accessing Help

If you know someone who is struggling with mental health, there are plenty of resources for them. If it’s you, try these and also check out your local library to locate books that might help.

Head to Health

Beyond Blue


Black Dog Institute

We also offer courses in Mental Health First Aid, Youth Mental Health First Aid and Mental Health First Aid Refreshers

The courses will teach you how to identify, recognise and respond to signs of distress. This includes where professional help can be sought out if needed, as well as what different treatments are available for the individual.