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Med Sci Law. 2005 Jan;45(1):71-80.

Elderly suicide: an analysis of coroner's inquests into two hundred cases in Cheshire 1989 - 2001.

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5 Boroughs Partnership Trust, Hollins Park, Warrington WA2 8WA.


Elderly suicide is an index of more widespread disorder and discontent among the elderly, and furthermore is a potentially preventable cause of death. This study used coroner's inquest records of 200 elderly in Cheshire who killed themselves, and in which their unexpected deaths attracted a verdict of suicide. Sociodemographic characteristics, clinical aspects of the suicidal process and health care contact before death are reviewed. Unlike most available studies, cases of unexpected death in which an open verdict was given were not included in this study, which covered a 13 year period. The findings are interpreted and compared to the currently available literature on suicide in the elderly. Late life suicide is characterised by less warning, higher lethality and greater prevalence of depression and physical illness. However, suicide risk often remains undetected. All suicidal behaviour in the elderly should be taken seriously by psychiatric and primary care services, in order to reduce suicide rates in the elderly.

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