Suicide among the elderly in mainland China


  • This review article was presented by the author in Symposium of the 23rd annual meeting of Japanese Psychogeriatric Society in Kobe, 27–28 June 2008.

Professor Shifu Xiao, Department of Psychogeriatrics, Shanghai Mental Health Center, Shanghai Jiaotong University School of Medicine, South Wanping Road 600, Xuhui District, Shanghai, 200030, China. Email:


Suicide in mainland China shows unique demographic patterns with age: the over-65 age group has the highest rate of completed suicide, reaching 44.3–200 per 100 000, which is four to five times higher than the Chinese general population. Rural suicide rates among the elderly are three to five times higher than the urban rates. The gender ratio of suicide in the elderly shows a reversal to those younger than 60 years of age in China. In addition, suicide methods and causes are different from those in Western countries. In the present paper, the profile of suicide among the elderly in China is delineated, including the prevalence, characteristics, underlying reasons and measures of preventing it.