Centre for Policy on Ageing


Elderly suicide in London
 — an analysis of coroner's inquests
Author(s)H R Cattell
Journal titleInternational Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, vol 3, no 4, October-December 1988
Pagespp 251-261
KeywordsSuicide ; London.
AnnotationThe article describes the social, physical and psychological features of 104 consecutive elderly suicides, using information obtained from coroners' inquests. An age and sex matched cohort of 51 accidental deaths was used as a control. The suicide cohort was significantly more depressed and in pain, had experienced more previous depressive episodes and suicide attempts, and were less confused compared to the control group. The study confirms the importance of recognized risk factors: 61% were living alone, with 9% complaining of loneliness. Only one individual, on available data, attended a day hospital or day centre. Physical illness was common, with at least 56% having ill health prior to death and 63% showing postmortem abnormalities. Twenty-two per cent revealed abnormal cerebral pathology. Depressive illness was prominent, with 79% exhibiting depressive symptoms prior to death. Only 12 individuals were taking antidepressants and only one was on lithium. Despite contact with primary care services, only 20% had been seen by psychiatrists within three months of death. The roles of alcohol, drugs, abnormal cerebral changes and personality factors are discussed along with considerations for prevention. (KJ).
Accession NumberCPA-930603013
ClassmarkEV: 82L

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