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Can J Psychiatry. 1996 May;41(4):217-22.

Suicide in old age: a tragedy of neglect.

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  • 1Mississauga Hospital, Ontario.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

To investigate the incidence and treatment of depression in geriatric suicide.

METHOD:

All coroners' records, autopsy and police reports for suicide victims aged 65+ in Ontario (n = 543) over 3 years were examined.

RESULTS:

Over 80% of the elderly who committed suicide received no psychiatric referral. Of the sample, 87% were untreated while only 13% received antidepressants. Tricyclics, which are lethal in overdose, were the drugs of choice. None of the sample was treated with the safer specific serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). Females were 3 times as likely to be treated as were males, and those seeing psychiatrists were 4 times more likely to be treated with antidepressants than those seeing general practitioners (GPs). The physically ill were rarely treated.

CONCLUSIONS:

These findings suggest that early geropsychiatric assessment and vigorous treatment could prevent many suicides in old age.

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PMID:
8726786
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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