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Suicidal seniors: deadly serious.

Suicidal seniors: Deadly serious

Elderly people who attempt suicide appear more intent on succeeding than their younger counterparts, according to a retrospective study described in the January ARCHIVES OF INTERNAL MEDICINE.

Using records spanning 13 years of psychiatric consultations at the University of Louisville (Ky.), psychiatrist Robert L. Frierson compared reports on 95 people aged 60 to 90 with reports on 1,630 people aged 16 to 59, all of whom had survived suicide attempts. He found older individuals more like than younger ones to be male and to have used a highly lethal means of attempting suicide, such as a shooting themselves in the head. People in the older group said they had planned their suicide attempts as much as several months in advance, while younger attempters often acted more impulsively, in many cases immediately after an argument, Frierson reports.

Elderly people mentioned ill health, loneliness and bereavement as reasons for their suicide attempts more often than younger people, who typically cited factors such as marital problems, unemployment and financial difficulties.

A 1978 study showed that one-third to one-half of elderly men and women who committed suicide had visited a physician within seven days of their death. Frierson and colleagues reason that studies of elderly men and women who have survived suicide attempts may help physicians become more alert to suicidal warning signs displayed by older patients.
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Title Annotation:suicidal elderly more intent on succeeding
Publication:Science News
Date:Feb 9, 1991
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