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Acta Psychiatr Scand. 2002 Apr;105(4):271-5.

Elderly suicide rates in Asian and English-speaking countries.

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Department of Mental Health, Faculty of Medicine, Health and Biological Sciences, University of Southampton, Southampton, UK.



Asian culture venerates elderly people. It was hypothesized that elderly suicides would be proportionately lower in Asian societies than in English-speaking countries (ESC).


Elderly (i.e. aged 75 years or more) to general population suicide ratios were compared for six Asian societies and six ESC, based upon the latest 5-year suicide rates.


Males: The general population suicide rate was highest in rural China (227 per million) and third highest in Japan (217 per million), but other countries with high rates were all ESC (ranging from 224 to 198 per million). Asian countries had the six highest elderly suicide rates, 1327-1373 per million, whilst the highest ESC elderly rate was in the United States (507 per million). Asian societies had the widest range of elderly/general ratios, ranging from 6.62 to 2.6. Females: The overall suicide rates were higher in Asian countries (57-95 per million) than in ESC (40-56 per million). Asian elderly suicide rates differed (932 per million in rural China to 154 per million in Korea) but the highest ESC rate was in Australia (76 per million). The Asian countries elderly/general ratios ranged from 5.82 : 1 to 2.70 : 1, but the widest ESC ratio was 1.71 : 1, in the United Kingdom.


There is a need for country-specific prevention measures in elderly people, and particularly for older women in Asian countries.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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