Sunday, January 15, 2006


Suicide is the act of purposely killing oneself. The incidence of suicide increases greatly with age. In countries where 10 percent to 15 percent of the population is over 65, 25 percent to 30 percent of all suicides occur among the elderly. Elderly people, unlike many younger people, do not make suicidal gestures and attempts to seek attention or to get help. Suicidal attempts and completed suicide by the elderly almost always happen during persistent depressions, and repeat attempts at suicide more often have fatal results among the elderly than among younger people. Preoccupation with suicide should always prompt attempts at treatment.
While the male suicide rate is from three to five times the rate for women up to age 44, the difference between the sexes widens dramatically in the later years of life. At age 55-64 there are 26-27 suicides for every 100,000 males in the United States and 8.4 for every 100,000 females. At 65-74 there are 35.5 male suicides per 100,000 and 7.2 female. At 75-84 the rate is 54.8 suicides for males compared to 7.5 for females, and at 85 the difference between the sexes reaches a peak when there are over 12 times as many male suicides-a rate of 61.6 for men but 4.7 for women. No one has fully analyzed and supported with statistics the reason for the lifelong and growing difference in male-female suicide rates, but the greater frequency of obviously terminal illness and disabling heart and stroke conditions among men are suspected reasons.
Brocklehurst, J. C. Textbook of Geriatric Medicine and Gerontology. New York: Churchill Livingstone, 1985.


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