2004 issue 2


Volume 13, issue 2

Review article

Suicide in the elderly: prevalence, risk factors and prospects of prevention

Tomasz Sobów1
1. Klinika Psychiatrii Wieku Podeszłego i Zaburzeń Psychotycznych Uniwersytetu Medycznego w Łodzi
Postępy Psychiatrii i Neurologii, 2004, 13 (2), 145-151
Keywords: suicide, the elderly, prevalence, prevention


Aim. Epidemiological and clinical data on suicide in the elderly are presented in the paper.

Review. The problem of suicide in the elderly is marginalized in the psychiatric literature and almost totally absent in the Polish-language publications. Epidemiological data indicate a disproportionately high prevalence of committed suicides among the elderly (especially males) who had expressed suicidal ideas. The most significant risk factor in the elderly consists in affective disorders, above all-chronic depression. Efficient therapeutic interventions (including appropriate medication and psychotherapy) are possible, as well as prevention programs, which seem to be even more important.

Conclusions. Considering the necessity of transformation of the current ineffective system of health care in Poland it seems worthwhile to develop long-term national prevention programs. Due to the importance of the problem and enormous costs of negligence, the prevention programs should include mental health protection, especially in the aspect of depression and suicide, as well as dementia.

Address for correspondence:
Dr Tomasz Sobów,
Klinika Psychiatrii Wieku Podeszłego i Zaburzeń Psychotycznych
Uniwersytetu Medycznego,
ul. Czechosłowacka 8/10,
92-216 Łódź,
e-mail: tmsobow@csk.am.lodz.pl