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Suicide in older adults: a comparison with middle-aged adults using the Queensland Suicide Register

  • Yu Wen Koo (a1), Kairi Kõlves (a1) and Diego De Leo (a1)

Abstract

Background:

Globally, suicide rates increase with age, being highest in older adults. This study analyzed differences in suicides in older adults (65 years and over) compared to middle-aged adults (35–64 years) in Queensland, Australia, during the years 2000–2012.

Methods:

The Queensland Suicide Register was utilized for the analysis. Annual suicide rates were calculated by gender and age group, and odds ratios with 95% confidence intervals were examined.

Results:

In Queensland, the average annual rate of suicides for older adults was 15.27 per 100,000 persons compared to 18.77 in middle-aged adults in 2000–2012. There were no significant changes in time trends for older adults in 2002–2012. Suicide methods differed between gender and age groups. Older adults who died by suicide were more likely to be male, widowed, living alone or in a nursing home, and out of the work force. The prevalence of untreated psychiatric conditions, diagnosed psychiatric disorders, and consultations with a mental health professional three months prior to death was lower in older adults than middle-aged adults. Somatic illness, bereavement, and attention to suicide in the media were more common among older adults than middle-age adults. Older females were particularly more likely to pay attention to suicide in the media.

Conclusion:

Our findings show older adults who died by suicide were more likely to experience somatic illnesses, bereavement, and pay attention to suicide in the media compared to middle aged. Preventing suicide in older adults would therefore require holistic and comprehensive approaches.

Copyright

Corresponding author

Correspondence should be addressed to: Dr. Kairi Kõlves, AISRAP, Griffith University, Mt Gravatt Campus, QLD 4122, Australia. Phone: +61 7 3735 3380; Fax: +61 7 3735 3450. Email: k.kolves@griffith.edu.au.

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