Elderly suicide victims more likely to have fallen to their deaths

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Suicide is a major public health problem among those age 65 and older, and a recent study found suicidal people in that age group who live in cities are more likely than their younger counterparts to choose falling from height as their suicide method and to choose to jump from their own homes or apartment buildings.

Nationally, firearms are the most common method of suicide for those age 65 and older, according to earlier studies, yet factors that influence older people's suicide methods are not well understood. In this study, researchers compared suicide methods of elderly and younger adults in New York City. They found the elderly suicide victims were more likely to have fallen to their deaths from high places than younger adults. In the study of all New York suicides from 1990 through 1998, falls from heights were the most common method used by those age 65 and older, while firearms were most commonly used by those age 15-34. Among people age 65 and older who committed suicide, they were significantly more likely than younger people who committed suicide to have fallen from their homes (86.3 percent vs. 69.4 percent).

The study’s authors said their results highlight “the need for knowledge about depression among urban elderly residents, a condition that is often untreated or treated inadequately.”

[From: “ Preference for Fall From Height as a Method of Suicide by Elderly Residents of New York City.” Contact: Robert C. Abrams, MD, Department of Psychiatry, New York Presbyterian Hospital, New York, N.Y., [email protected].]

http://www.apha.org/

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