Department of Health

Leading causes of death in 2017

In 2017, there were 39,791 deaths in Victoria, of which 19,856 were male and 19,935 were female (Australian Bureau of Statistics 2018).

Ischaemic heart diseases remained the leading cause of death in Victoria for both males and females, accounting for 11.67 per cent of all deaths.

This was followed by 'malignant neoplasms of digestive organs' (including pancreatic, intestinal, liver, gastric and oesophageal cancers), accounting for 8.5 per cent of all deaths.

'Cerebrovascular diseases' (stroke) was the third leading cause of death in Victoria, accounting for 6.17 per cent of all deaths.

Table 1 shows the 10 leading causes of death in 2017 in Victoria.

Table 1: Causes of death, Victoria 2017

Causes of death Males Females Persons Percentage of all deaths
Ischaemic heart diseases 2,602 2,040 4,642 11.67
Malignant neoplasms of digestive organs 1,891 1,492 3,383 8.50
Cerebrovascular diseases 1,010 1,444 2,454 6.17
Other forms of heart disease 1,073 1,326 2,399 6.03
Organic, including symptomatic, mental disorders 793 1,451 2,244 5.64
Malignant neoplasms of respiratory and intrathoracic organs 1,225 827 2,052 5.16
Chronic lower respiratory diseases 996 1,041 2,037 5.12
Other degenerative diseases of the nervous system 534 940 1,474 3.70
Influenza and pneumonia 529 632 1,161 2.92
Diabetes mellitus 594 563 1,157 2.91

Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2018.

Perinatal mortality

In 2016, 80,233 babies were born in Victoria. Of these there were:

  • 839 perinatal deaths
  • 626 stillbirths
  • 213 neonatal deaths up to 28 days of age (Department of Health and Human Services, 2017).

Victoria's adjusted perinatal mortality rate was 8.8 per 1,000 births. This is among the lowest in Australia and other countries of similar socioeconomic status (Department of Health and Human Services 2017).

The leading cause of adjusted stillbirth was congenital anomalies. Unexplained fetal deaths, where a definitive cause could not be established, remained the second most common classification in 2016. Specific perinatal conditions (including twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome, fetomaternal haemorrhage, cord accidents and birth trauma), preterm birth and fetal growth restriction remain among the next most common causes (Department of Health and Human Services 2017).

Find out more

Access the report on Victoria's Mothers, Babies and Children 2017External Link .

For more on infant safe sleeping, visit the Chief Health Officer's Maternal and infant health page.

Intentional self-harm (suicides)


In 2017, there were 618 deaths in Victoria due to intentional self-harm (suicides). Males accounted for 443 of these deaths (72 per cent of all intentional suicides deaths) and females accounted for 175 (28 per cent of all intentional suicides deaths) (Australian Bureau of Statistics 2018).

For males, the death rate from suicide was 14.0 per 100,000 persons in 2017, compared with a rate of 5.4 per 100,000 persons for females.

The combined figure for total persons was 9.6 per 100,000 persons.

Figure 1 shows this data.

Figure 1 Rate of deaths per 100,000 due to intentional self-harm (suicide) in Victoria by sex, 2017

Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2018

Since 2015, there has been a slight reduction in the rate of deaths for all persons due to intentional suicides in Victoria, as shown in Figure 2 below.

This reduction seen in Figure 2 is largely due to fewer intentional suicides deaths among males in Victoria, as shown by the changes to the rate of deaths among males and females in Victoria between 2008 and 2017.

In this time period, there has been a steady increase in the rate of intentional suicides deaths among females in Victoria.

Bar graph showing fewer deaths due to suicide among men since 2014, but rising numbers of deaths among women.

Figure 2: Rate of deaths among males and females due to intentional self-harm (suicide) Victoria, 2008-2017

Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2018

For every suicide, there are many more people deeply affected including families, friends and colleagues.

For more information on suicide prevention initiatives in Victoria, access the Chief Health Officer's Suicide prevention page.


Australian Bureau of Statistics 2018, Causes of death, Victoria, 2017, Australian Bureau of Statistics, Canberra.

Department of Health and Human Services 2017, Victoria’s Mothers, Babies and Children 2016, State Government of Victoria, Melbourne.

Reviewed 17 April 2023

Your health: Report of the Chief Health Officer, Victoria, 2018

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