Background: Cultural factors may influence cross-national variations in elderly suicide rates.
Methods: A cross-national study examining the relationship between elderly suicide rates and elderly dependency ratios was conducted with the a priori unidirectional hypothesis that lower elderly dependency ratios (ratio of people over the age of 65 years to people under the age of 65 years) may imply a greater number of younger people being potentially available to provide support and respect to the elderly and to hold them in high esteem, and this would lead to a reduction in elderly suicide rates. Data on elderly suicide rates, and the total number of elderly and young people were ascertained from the World Health Organization website.
Results: Significant positive correlations were found between the natural logarithm of suicide rates, in both sexes in two elderly age-bands (65–74 years and 75+ years), and the elderly dependency ratio for males, females and both sexes combined.
Conclusions: The impact of elderly dependency ratios on elderly suicide rates may interact with and be modified and mediated through cultural factors. The contribution of cross-national differences in cultural factors on elderly suicide rates require further study by formally measuring cultural factors with validated instruments.