Rates and previous disease history in old age suicide

Department of Biology, University of Oulu, Uleoborg, Northern Ostrobothnia, Finland
International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry (Impact Factor: 3.09). 01/2007; 22(1):38-46. DOI: 10.1002/gps.1651
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Suicide rates in persons over 65 have been reported to be higher than those of younger age groups. Since the absolute number of suicides in the elderly is expected to rise, more precise ways to identify potential risk factors for elderly suicides are needed.
On the basis of forensic examinations suicide rates and methods in elderly Finns of northern Finland were compared with those of adults aged 18-64 years. Data from earlier illnesses of the suicide victims were scrutinized for records of multiple physical disorders.
Over the 15-year period the mean annual suicide rate per population of 100,000 was significantly lower in the elderly (22.5) than adults aged 18-64 years (38.4). A decrease in suicide rates over time occurred in both groups. Suicide methods among elderly were more often violent, and they were seldom under the influence of alcohol. They also had a high prevalence of previous hospital-treated depressive episodes and hospital-treated physical illnesses. A lifetime history of hospital-treated depression was more common among elderly victims who had received hospital treatment for genitourinary diseases, injuries or poisonings after their 50th birthday.
Our results from elderly suicide victims suggest an association between multiple physical illnesses and a history of depression. Especially, genitourinary diseases as well as hospital treatment due to injuries or poisonings were shown to associate with depression. Elderly Northern Finns showed lower suicide rates, and they decreased during the study period suggesting that active preventive measures against suicide are also feasible in the elderly.

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    ABSTRACT: We investigated associations between suicide ideation and a set of potential risk and resiliency factors in a heterogeneous sample of 107 older adults (mean age = 81.5 years, SD = 7.7 years; range, 67 to 98 years; 76% female) recruited in community, residential, and healthcare settings. Participants completed the Geriatric Suicide Ideation Scale (GSIS; Heisel & Flett, 2006) and measures of depression, perceived physical health problems, domains of psychological well-being, perceived meaning in life, and indices of social network and of religious affiliation and observance. The main findings indicated that suicide ideation was associated positively with depression and with number of self-reported physical health problems and negatively with domains of psychological well-being including positive relations with others and self-acceptance, and with perceived meaning in life. Hierarchical multiple regression analyses indicated that the resiliency factors in general, and perceived meaning in life in particular, explained significant added variance in suicide ideation over and above measures of mental and physical health problems. These findings suggest potential value in attending to both suicide risk and resiliency when assessing late-life suicide ideation and when developing interventions for older adults at risk for suicide.
    Clinical Gerontologist 05/2008; 31(4):51-70. DOI:10.1080/07317110801947177 · 0.66 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: A review of the empirical literature shows that physical illness increases risk for suicide late in life. Conditions that confer risk include cancer, some neurological disorders (including seizure and possibly cognitive impairment, but not Parkinson's disease or stroke), chronic pulmonary disorder, incontinence, renal failure, hearing or vision impairment, insomnia, and congestive heart failure. Nonetheless, most physically ill older adults do not die by suicide. The extent to which risks are explained by depression, disability, and pain remains to be evaluated. Depression outweighs physical illness as a risk factor for suicide in late life. Clinicians should routinely assess for depression as well as suicide risk in physically ill older adults.
    Clinical Gerontologist 05/2008; 31(4):31-50. DOI:10.1080/07317110801947151 · 0.66 Impact Factor


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Aug 6, 2014