Aging and Suicide

Aging and Suicide

Hitesh Khurana, Aishwarya Raj
Copyright: © 2018 |Pages: 21
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-3480-8.ch023
(Individual Chapters)
No Current Special Offers


Suicide is a global phenomenon and a potential cause of preventable death. After the young (below the age of 40 years), the elderly compose the second most prominent peak in the graph of suicide attempts and suicide victims. The cause and dynamics of suicidal behavior among elderly are quite different from the younger suicides. There have been different multidisciplinary theories proposed for it. Among all mental disorders, depressive disorders are particularly associated with suicidal behavior. Alcohol use, social isolation, financial difficulties are few unique factors that identify a suicidal elder. Physical illnesses, particularly those marked with pain, increase the chances of suicide. Prevention requires a multidisciplinary approach involving community, adequate and appropriate health services near to the place of victim, legal restrictions on the methods used for suicide such as availability of firearm and insecticides, public policies to take care of the elderly are recommended.
Chapter Preview


It may be that Gods are merciful when they make our lives more unpleasant as we grow old. In the end, death seems less intolerable than the many burdens we have to bear. - Sigmund Freud about his death due to cancer palate (Cunningham, Connell, Chin, & Lawlor, 2004)

Suicide is one of the most discussed causes of death at any stage of life. Suicidal behavior is a common cause of unnatural death and disability across the world. It accounts for 1.4% of all deaths making it 15th leading cause of mortality among all age groups. The annual global age-standardized death rate for 2012 is estimated to be 11.4 per 100,000, this is projected to remain unchanged through 2030.Besides death due to suicide, suicidal thoughts and nonfatal suicide attempts also warrant attention. of epidemiologist as this behavior strongly predict the suicide in future. Suicidal ideations are found prevalent in about 9.2% of general population surveys and attempted suicide in about 2.7% of population (Nock et al., 2008). Suicide ideation and attempts can result in negative consequences such as injury, hospitalization, and loss of liberty; and exert a financial burden of billions of dollars on society. Taken together, suicide and suicidal behavior comprise the nineteenth leading cause of global disease burden (i.e., years lost to disability, ill-health, and early death), and the sixth and ninth leading cause of global disease burden among men and women 15 to 44 years of age, respectively (World Health Organization, 2014a). Those aged above 60 years make a group vulnerable to suicide. Various studies have found that elderly suicides are preceded by lesser number of attempted suicides in past and elderly used more lethal means than younger population for such purpose. Compromised physical health at late age further adds to the lethal effect of the methods of suicides for which the younger population might be resilient. By any measure, there is urgency to better understand and prevent suicidal behavior in elderly, which is the purpose of this chapter.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Epidemiology: Epidemiology is the study of the distribution and determinants of health-related states or events (including disease), and the application of this study to the control of diseases and other health problems.

Old Age: Old age is the quality or state of being old and near the end of one's life.

Suicide: The intent of suicidal behavior, whether consciously or unconsciously motivated, is to permanently end one's life.

Physical Disorders: A physical disorder is any type of physical condition that significantly impacts one or more major life activities.

Mental Disorders: Mental disorders are usually associated with significant distress in social, occupational, or other important activities.

Complete Chapter List

Search this Book: