Background: Studies examining trends in elderly suicide rates over time reported a decline, an increase and no change. A cross-national study was undertaken to examine the current status of trends over time in elderly suicide rates because previous cross-national studies were well over a decade old.
Methods: Trends in suicide rates for males and females in the age-bands 65–74 years and 75+ years over a 10-year period were examined using data from the World Health Organization website for all the listed countries.
Results: The main findings were: (1) elderly suicide rates either declined or remained unchanged over the 10-year period in most countries; and, (2) suicide rates in both sexes in both the age-bands, over the 10-year period, declined in several European countries, and remained unchanged in several Central and South American countries, Eastern European countries and countries of the former Soviet Union.
Conclusions: Potential explanations for regional and cross-national variations in trends over time in elderly suicide rates include cross-national differences in trends over time in the prevalence of mental illness in the elderly, socioeconomic factors, cultural factors, the availability of appropriate healthcare services, and public health initiatives to improve the detection and treatment of mental illness, mental health and suicide prevention.