Correlates of Suicide in the Older Adult Population in Quebec

Authors

  • Assistant Professor Michel Préville PhD,

    Corresponding author
    1. Université de Sherbrooke, and an Associate Researcher at the Research Center on Aging, Sherbrooke Geriatric University Institute.
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  • Assistant Professor Richard Boyer PhD,

    1. Université de Montréal, and Researcher at the Mental Health Research Center, L. H. Lafontaine Hospital.
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  • Associate Professor Réjean Hébert MD, MPhil,

    1. Université de Sherbrooke, Scientific Director of the Institute of Aging, Canadian Institutes of Health Research, and Associate Researcher at the Research Center on Aging, Sherbrooke Geriatric University Institute.
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  • Chair Gina Bravo PhD,

    1. Community Health Sciences Department at the Université de Sherbrooke, and an Associate Researcher at the Research Center on Aging, Sherbrooke Geriatric University Institute.
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  • Assistant Professor Monique Seguin PhD

    1. Université du Québec à Hull and an Associate Researcher at the Mental Health Research Center, L. H. Lafontaine Hospital.
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  • This study was supported by the Conseil québécois de la recherche sociale (grant number BRS-895) and was also made possible through the kind assistance of the Quebec Commission d'accès à l'information and the Quebec Chief Coroner's Office which provided the survey data. The authors thank Bernadette Wilson who provided editing comments.

Address correspondence to Dr. Michel Préville, Research Center on Aging, Sherbrooke Geriatric University Institute, 1036 Belvédère South, Sherbrooke, Québec, Canada, J1H 4C4; E-mail: michel.preville@usherbrooke.ca.

Abstract

This study was undertaken to describe the characteristics of adults aged 60 years and over who committed suicide in Quebec in 1998–1999. In this study, 42.6% of the suicide cases presented mental disorders at the time of their death, mainly depression. Sixty-five (65.3%) percent of the suicide cases would have been considered as having a mental health disorder if sub-threshold depression cases were included. Only 27.7% of the cases did not express any idea of death during the 6-month period preceding their suicide. One interesting finding was that 53.5% of the suicide cases consulted a general practitioner or specialist during the 2-week period preceding their death. Our results showed that only 8.1% had a severe level of functional limitations at the time of their death. This result leads us to interpret with caution the conclusion of some studies suggesting that physical frailty is a major causal factor associated with suicide among the elderly.

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