The wish to die in elderly persons is currently under debate. Experts are questioning whether it is natural for these individuals to show a wish to die, whether the right to eventually kill oneself should be respected, or whether suicidal intentions in old age are expressions of mental disorders that need intensive, professional care. A representative community sample of 516 persons aged 70 to 105 was extensively investigated by psychiatrists using the structured interview Geriatric Mental State Examination-Version A (GMS-A) and several self-rating and observer-rating scales. Diagnoses were made according to DSM-III-R criteria and by clinical judgment. The goal of the study was to find examples of “pathology-free wishes to kill oneself.” A total of 115 out of 516 very old (70 to 105 years) persons, which represents 21.1% of the community population, said at the time of investigation that they wanted to die or felt life was not worth living (Hamilton Depression Rating Scale [HAMD] score 1, 2, or 3). Forty-three very old persons (6% of the community population) had the wish to be dead according to the HAMD or the GMS-A, and 11 persons (2% of the community population) had suicidal intentions. Depending on the intensity of suicidality, 80% to 100% were clinically diagnosed as having psychiatric disorders and half to three quarters showed symptoms fulfilling the criteria of at least one specified psychiatric diagnosis. Acute suicidal intentions were in all cases associated with at least one specified diagnosis according to DSM-III-R. Thirteen persons out of 54 who actually wanted to die (GMS-A category 4, 5, 6 or HAMD category 2, 3) did not fulfill criteria for specified diagnoses. Seven individuals showed scores in self-rating and observer-rating scales that speak for mental disorders apart from pure suicidality. Six remaining persons are described in greater detail in short case vignettes. They showed either mild but chronic psychiatric disorders, fluctuating courses, or an atypical phenomenology of psychiatric disorders. The results of this study strongly suggest that the wish to be dead in the very old is most probable, and suicidal intentions are definitely associated with psychiatric disorders.