• cardiovascular disease;
  • elderly;
  • non malignant neoplasm;
  • orthopedic disorder;
  • psychiatric disorders;
  • suffering from physical illness;
  • suicide


Background:  The aim of the present study is to show the causative factors of suicide among the elderly (over 65) in Mie Prefecture, Japan, and to discuss the prevention of the suicidal influences in elderly patients.

Methods:  We investigated all inquest records during the 14-year period 1989–2002 in cooperation with the First Department of Criminal Investigation of Mie Prefectural Police Headquarters. From all cases classified as suicides, we extracted data on age, sex and background, and we focused on suicide in the elderly group.

Results:  During the test period, there were 5048 suicides (3276 male and 1772 female suicides) of which 1513 (691 male and 822 female) were in the elderly group. The rate of suicide in the elderly group was approximately 30% of the total in all age groups. The rate of female suicides in the elderly group was approximately 46.3%. The major causative factors of suicide among the elderly were ‘suffering from physical illness’, and ‘psychiatric disorders’. ‘Physical diseases’ were not negligible backgrounds in middle and elderly groups. Among physical diseases, the number of malignant neoplasm was clearly less than the other diseases. Notably, ‘cardiovascular disease’ and ‘orthopedic disorders’ were most frequent causative factors of suicide other than malignant neoplasm.

Conclusion:  It is consequently concluded that improvements in the system of home nursing and health care should be involved in the suicidal prevention of the elderly who ‘suffer from physical illness’. The patients who ‘suffer from physical illness’ should be given physical and mental support. In order to prevent suicide, not only psychiatrists but also general practitioners as well as medical staff and general public should be provided with education regarding depression among ‘psychiatric disorders’.