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Byron Shire
June 18, 2024

Causes of death

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There’s been a lot of talk about an epidemic of violence against women lately, including Dr Ray Moynihan’s article in the last Echo.

I like to put these things in perspective, so I made a perusal of some statistics about causes of death from the Australian Bureau of Statistics. These are for 2022.

Most deaths are caused by diseases or health conditions, of course, but let’s put those aside. I was surprised to find the leading cause, by far, of non-disease deaths was accidental falls, at 4,084.

Drug overdoses caused 1,693 deaths. Alcohol caused 1,742. Motor vehicle accidents caused 1,267. It was interesting, and to me surprising, that accidental falls caused nearly as many deaths as these three together. The falls were 2,046 men and 2,038 women.

Assaults caused 228 deaths, of which 70 were women and 158 men. Assaults are more upsetting, of course, because these are done deliberately by one person to another, unless some form of insanity is involved. These 70 women make up somewhat less than 1 in 100 of the 9,014 sad deaths listed above.

For a woman, the chance of dying by an accidental fall is just about 30 times as much as assault.

Dr Moynihan states: ‘The NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics estimates over 40,000 people in NSW suffered at least one episode of physical violence at the hands of an intimate partner or family member in the past year.’ It’s not clear if this refers to men and women assaults, or whether two brothers or two sisters fighting would qualify.

NSW has 8,153,000 people, so this means about 1 in 200 people experience at least one assault in the course of a whole year.

Charles MacFarland, Ewingsdale


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