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International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry

Psychosocial and medical aspects of older suicide completers in Israel: a 10-year survey

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Abstract

Objectives

The rate of completed suicide among the elderly continues to be the highest of any age group worldwide. The aim of the present study was to investigate the sociodemographic data, mental and physical health characteristics, and suicide methods of the elderly population who completed suicide in Israel.

Methods

A national retrospective record-based case series study of consecutive elder (50 years or older) suicide completers who had undergone autopsy over a 10-year period was conducted.

Results

Three hundred and fourteen consecutive records of suicide completers, 69.6% males, and mean age 64.7 were analyzed. The largest group (38%) emigrated from the Former Soviet Union and 19% emigrated from East Europe. Immigrants from East Europe committed suicide at an older age.

Hanging was the predominant suicide method. Jumping from height increased more than threefold in the ‘old-old’(older than 75 years) group. Hanging and firearms were more frequently used by males. Females were more likely to employ poisoning and suffocation.

A significant minority (30%) had been diagnosed as suffering from psychiatric morbidity. Most common diagnoses were depression and alcohol abuse or dependence. Physical disorders (mainly cardiovascular disease and malignancy) were present in 27% of cases. Subjects with psychiatric illness were more likely to complete suicide at a younger age compared with subjects with physical illness.

Conclusions

Findings of male predominance, psychiatric morbidity, and physical illness are consistent with previously published studies. Immigrants from East Europe completed suicide at an older age and the older victims had used more lethal methods of suicide. Copyright © 2014 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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