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Suicide Life Threat Behav. 2007 Dec;37(6):648-58. doi: 10.1521/suli.2007.37.6.648.

Clinicopathological findings of suicide in the elderly: three cases.

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Academic Department for Old Age Psychiatry, Prince of Wales Hospital, Australia.


The neuropathological correlates of suicide in older persons have received little research attention. Our recent study of elderly suicide victims from an Australian forensic medicine department (n = 143), unlike a previous case-control study, did not find an increased prevalence of Alzheimer's disease (AD) in older persons who committed suicide despite a history of dementia in 6.3%. Both studies were limited to the examination of AD-related pathology by the availability of tissue. We present clinicopathological data on three cases from our study for whom autopsy findings were available. These cases included: a community-dwelling male in his early eighties with dementia who was found to have multiple cortical and striatal lacunes and glial scars, small vessel cerebrovascular disease (SVD) and AD-related pathology; a community-dwelling male in his mid-seventies with depression and loss of concentration, with brainstem predominant Lewy body disease (LBD) and AD-related pathology; and a female nursing home resident in her nineties with a history of stroke and prior suicide attempts who was found to have infarcts and SVD in frontal regions. Neuropathological findings in elderly suicide victims may include multiple neurodegenerative pathologies. The burden and distribution of neurodegenerative diseases apart from AD, including SVD and LBD, should be assessed as possible pathophysiological factors contributing to late life suicide.

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