Author(s): K. Thulasiram, G. Subha

BACKGROUND Suicide is a complex human behaviour involving many aspects of individual’s personality, state of health and life circumstances. The number of suicide attempts has been increasing progressively in India. Suicidal behavior in older people is a major public health issue. Suicidal ideation in elderly is most often missed or underestimated probably due communication defects and health issues. There is an increase in suicide tendency towards late life, but its incidence and cause have been under reported. This study aims to evaluate incidence, risk factors and outcomes of suicide attempts by elderly population, along with strategies for prevention of such suicidal ideation.1 METHODS 60 elderly patients were taken for the study. Retrospective study was done based on hospital records of patients. Data was collected in standardized proforma and analyzed. RESULTS Out of the 60 studied cases, 41 (68.3%) were male and 19 (31.6%) were female. Total number of deaths was 14 (64.3%) who were female and 5 (35.7%) who were male. The most commonly attributed cause for suicide attempts were socio-economic situations 38 (63%), psychiatric illness 13 (21.6%) and physical illness 9 (15%). CONCLUSIONS Among the study group, major attributing factor turned out to be socio-economic factors, differing from the studies done in western population which point mainly towards depression or presence of major psychiatric or physical illness as major cause for suicide among the elderly population. Male preponderance was noted in the study. Although male preponderance was noted in the study, the death rate was high among women implying that women used more fatal methods and had higher suicide completion rate. During the period of study, we found that most patients had unknowingly expressed some symptom or sign expressing their wish to commit suicide before the incident either to their family members or their physicians.

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