Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home

Suicide in older adults: differences between the young-old, middle-old, and oldest old

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

Abstract

Background:

In the limited research into suicides in older adults, they have been treated as a homogenous group without distinguishing between different age groups. This study aimed to compare differences in sociodemographic variables, recent life events, and mental and physical illnesses between three age groups within older adults who died by suicide: young-old (65–74 years), middle-old (75–84 years), and oldest old (85 years and over) in Queensland, Australia, during the years 2000–2012 (N = 978).

Methods:

The Queensland Suicide Register was utilized for the analysis. Annual suicide rates were calculated. Odds ratios with 95% confidence intervals and χ 2 tests for trend were calculated to examine differences between the three groups.

Results:

Suicide rates were increasing with age for males, but not for females. Hanging and firearms were the predominant methods of suicides. However, suffocation by plastic bag and drowning as suicide methods increased with age, in contrast firearms and explosives decreased with age. Overall, psychiatric problems, suicidal behavior, legal and financial stressors, and relationship problems decreased significantly with age, meanwhile physical conditions and bereavement increased with age.

Conclusion:

Suicide across older adulthood is not a homogenous phenomenon. Our findings showed significant differences in the prevalence of potential risk factors within the three different age groups considered. To prevent suicide in older adults would require targeting specific factors for each subgroup while using 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.

References

Hide All
Australian Bureau of Statistics. (2016). Causes of Death, Australia, 2015. (Cat No. 3303.0. Available at: http://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@.nsf/productsbyCatalogue/47E19CA15036B04BCA2577570014668B?OpenDocument; last accessed 29 September 2016.
Chatterji, S., Byles, J., Cutler, D., Seeman, T. and Verdes, E. (2015). Health, functioning and disability in older adults – current status and future implications. The Lancet, 385, 563575. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(14)61462-8.
Chen, Y. Y., Chien-Chang Wu, K. and Yip, P. S. (2011). Suicide prevention through restricting access to suicide means and hotspots. In O'Connor, R. C., Platt, S. and Gordon, J. (eds.), International Handbook of Suicide Prevention: Research, Policy and Practice. Chichester, UK: John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. doi: 10.1002/9781119998556.ch31.
De Leo, D., Draper, B. M., Snowdon, J. and Kõlves, K. (2013). Suicides in older adults: a case–control psychological autopsy study in Australia. Journal of Psychiatric Research, 47, 980988. doi: 10.1016/j.jpsychires.2013.02.009.
Dodge, H. H., Kita, Y., Takechi, H., Hayakawa, T., Ganguli, M. and Ueshima, H. (2008). Healthy cognitive aging and leisure activities among the oldest old in Japan: Takashima study. The Journals of Gerontology: Series A, Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences, 63, 11931200.
Erlangsen, A., Bille-Brahe, U. and Jeune, B. (2003). Differences in suicide between the old and the oldest old. The Journals of Gerontology Series B: Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences, 58, S314S322. doi: 10.1093/geronb/58.5.S314.
Erlangsen, A., Stenager, E. and Conwell, Y. (2015). Physical diseases as predictors of suicide in older adults: a nationwide, register-based cohort study. Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology, 50, 14271439. doi: 10.1007/s00127-015-1051-0.
Fegg, M., Kraus, S., Graw, M. and Bausewein, C. (2016). Physical compared to mental diseases as reasons for committing suicide: a retrospective study. BMC Palliative Care, 15, 14. doi: 10.1186/s12904-016-0088-5.
Gunnell, D. et al. (2015). Suicide by gases in England and wales 2001–2011: evidence of the emergence of new methods of suicide. Journal of Affective Disorders, 170, 190195. doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2014.08.055.
Harwood, D., Hawton, K., Hope, T. and Jacoby, R. (2006). Suicide in older people without psychiatric disorder. International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, 21, 363367. doi: 10.1002/gps.1473.
Kjølseth, I., Ekeberg, Ø. and Steihaug, S. (2010). Why suicide? elderly people who committed suicide and their experience of life in the period before their death. International Psychogeriatrics, 22, 209218. doi: 10.1017/s1041610209990949.
Klieve, H., Barnes, M. and De Leo, D. (2009a). Controlling firearms use in Australia: has the 1996 gun law reform produced the decrease in rates of suicide with this method?. Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology, 44, 285292. doi: 10.1007/s00127-008-0435-9.
Klieve, H., Barnes, M. and De Leo, D. (2009b). Who uses firearms as a means of suicide? a population study exploring firearm accessibility and method choice. BMC Medicine, 7, 52. doi: 1 0.1186/1741-7015-7-52.
Koo, Y. W., Kõlves, K. and De Leo, D. (2016). Suicide in older adults: a comparison with middle-aged adults using the Queensland suicide register. International Psychogeriatrics. doi: 10.1017/S1041610216001848.
Lapierre, S. et al. (2011). A systematic review of elderly suicide prevention programs. Crisis, 32, 8898. doi: 10.1027/0227-5910/a000076.
Marzuk, P. M. et al. (1993). Increase in suicide by asphyxiation in New York City after the publication of final exit. New England Journal of Medicine, 329, 15081510.
Mathers, C. D., Stevens, G. A., Boerma, T., White, R. A. and Tobias, M. I. (2015). Causes of international increases in older age life expectancy. The Lancet, 385, 540548. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(14)60569-9.
McLaren, S., Gomez, R., Gill, P. and Chesler, J. (2015). Marital status and suicidal ideation among Australian older adults: the mediating role of sense of belonging. International Psychogeriatrics, 27, 145154. doi: 10.1017/S1041610214001501.
Naef, R., Ward, R., Mahrer-Imhof, R. and Grande, G. (2013). Characteristics of the bereavement experience of older persons after spousal loss: an integrative review. International Journal of Nursing Studies, 50, 11081121.
Neugarten, B. L. and Neugarten, D. A. (1996). The Meanings of Age: Selected Papers. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press
Oyama, H. et al. (2005). Community-based suicide prevention through group activity for the elderly successfully reduced the high suicide rate for females. Psychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences, 59, 337344. doi: 10.1111/j.1440-1819.2005.01379.x.
Paraschakis, A. et al. (2012). Late onset suicide: distinction between “young-old” vs. “old-old” suicide victims. How different populations are they?. Archives of Gerontology and Geriatrics, 54, 136139. doi: 10.1016/j.archger.2011.02.011.
Potts, B., Kõlves, K., O'Gorman, J. and De Leo, D. (2016). Suicide in Queensland, 2011-2013: Mortality Rates and Related Data. Brisbane: Australian Institute of Suicide Research and Prevention.
Rubenowitz, E., Waern, M., Wilhelmson, K. and Allebeck, P. (2001). Life events and psychosocial factors in elderly suicides – a case-control study. Psychological Medicine, 31, 11931202. doi: 10.1017/s0033291701004457.
Shah, A., Bhat, R., Zarate-Escudero, S., De Leo, D. and Erlangsen, A. (2016). Suicide rates in five-year age-bands after the age of 60 years: the international landscape. Aging & Mental Health, 20, 131138.
van den Hondel, K. E., Buster, M. and Reijnders, U. J. (2016). Suicide by asphyxiation with or without helium inhalation in the region of Amsterdam (2005–2014). Journal of Forensic and Legal Medicine, 44, 2426. doi: 10.101/j.jflm.2016.08.012.
Vasiliadis, H. M., Lamoureux-Lamarche, C. and Guerra, S. G. (2016). Gender and age group differences in suicide risk associated with co-morbid physical and psychiatric disorders in older adults. International Psychogeriatrics. doi: 10.1017/S1041610216001290.
Waern, M., Rubenowitz, E. and Wilhelmson, K. (2003). Predictors of suicide in the old elderly. Gerontology, 49, 328334. doi: 10.1159/000071715.
World Health Organization (2016). World Health Statistics 2016. Geneva, Switzerland: World Health Organization.
Yip, P., Caine, E., Yousuf, S., Chang, S., Wu, K. and Chen, Y. (2012). Means restriction for suicide prevention. The Lancet, 379, 23932399. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(12)60521-2.
Zizza, C. A., Ellison, K. J. and Wernette, C. M. (2009). Total water intakes of community-living middle-old and oldest-old adults. The Journals of Gerontology Series A: Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences, 64, 481486. doi: 10.1093/gerona/gln045.

Keywords

Metrics

Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed