Objective: To examine the changes in rates of methods of suicide in Australian states and territories between 1988 and 2007.
Design and setting: Meta-analysis of suicide mortality rates and suicide methods (hanging, shooting, gassing, poisoning, jumping from a height, drowning, use of a sharp implement) for males and females in Australian states and territories in the decades 1988-1997 and 1998-2007.
Main outcome measures: Changes in use of suicide methods from 1988 to 2007; changes in the overall suicide rates and in rates for each method of suicide in Australian states and territories between 1988-1997 and 1998-2007.
Results: There was a decline in rates of shooting, gassing, poisoning and drowning in males and a decline in shooting, gassing, jumping from a height and drowning among females, but an increase in hanging by both males and females in the decade 1998-2007 when the compared to 1988-1997. There was significant variation in the rates of and trends in methods of suicide between the states and territories of Australia between 1988-1997 and 1998-2007.
Conclusions: The decline in rates of suicide in most parts of Australia coincides with a reduction in the availability of lethal methods. Consideration should be given to further measures to limit the availability of lethal methods of suicide.