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Suicide in centenarians: the international landscape

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  26 June 2014

Ajit Shah
School of Health, University of Central Lancashire, London, UK
Sofia Zarate-Escudero
Trainee Psychiatrist, St Charles Hospital, London, UK
Ravi Bhat
Rural Health Academic Centre, University of Melbourne, Shepparton, Victoria, Australia
Diego De Leo
Australian Institute for Suicide Research and Prevention, Griffith University, Mt Gravatt, Australia Slovene Centre for Suicide Research, University of Primorska, Koper, Slovenia.
Annette Erlangsen
Research Unit, Mental Health Centre Copenhagen, Capital Region of Denmark, Denmark.


Background. The elderly population size is growing worldwide due increased life expectancy and decreased mortality in the elderly. This has lead to an increase in the number of centenarians, and their numbers are predicted to increase further. Little is known about suicide rates in centenarians.

Methods. Data on the number of suicides (ICD-10 codes, X60–84) in centenarians of both gender for as many years as possible from 2000 were ascertained from three sources: colleagues, national statisics office websites and e-mail contact with the national statistics offices of as many countries as possible. The number of centernarians for the corresponding years was estimated for each country using data provided by the United Nations website.

Results. Data were available from 17 countries. The suicide rate was 57 (95% confidence interval 45–69) per 100, 000 person years in men and 6.8 (95% confidence interval 5.1–8.5) per 100,000 person years in women.

Conclusions. Suicide rates were sufficiently large amongst centenarians for there to constitute a public health concern given the anticipated rise in the centenarian population and the paucity of data on risk and protective factors for suicide in this age group.

Research Article
Copyright © International Psychogeriatric Association 2014 

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