Psychiatric disorder and personality factors associated with suicide in older people: a descriptive and case-control study

Int J Geriatr Psychiatry. 2001 Feb;16(2):155-65. doi: 10.1002/1099-1166(200102)16:2<155::aid-gps289>;2-0.


Objective: To determine the rates of psychiatric disorder and personality variables in a sample of older people who had committed suicide and to compare the rates in a subgroup of this sample with those in a control group of people who died from natural causes.

Design: Descriptive psychological autopsy study, including interviews with informants, of psychiatric and personality factors in 100 suicides in older people. Case-control study using subgroup of 54 cases and matched control group.

Setting: Four counties and one large urban area in central England, UK.

Subjects: Individuals 60 years old and over at the time of death who had died between 1 January 1995 and 1 May 1998, and whose deaths had received a coroner's verdict of suicide (or an open or accidental verdict, where the circumstances of death indicated probable suicide). The control group was an age-and sex-matched sample of people dying through natural causes in the same time period.

Main outcome measures: ICD-10 psychiatric disorder, personality disorder and trait accentuation.

Main results: Seventy-seven per cent of the suicide sample had a psychiatric disorder at the time of death, most often depression (63%). Personality disorder or personality trait accentuation was present in 44%, with anankastic or anxious traits the most frequent. Depression, personality disorder, and personality trait accentuation emerged as predictors of suicide in the case-control analysis.

Conclusion: Personality factors, as well as depression, are important risk factors for suicide in older people.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Case-Control Studies
  • England / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Odds Ratio
  • Personality Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Personality*
  • Prevalence
  • Risk
  • Suicide / psychology*
  • Suicide / statistics & numerical data