Death ideation and its correlates: survey of an over-65-year-old population

J Nerv Ment Dis. 2001 Apr;189(4):210-8. doi: 10.1097/00005053-200104000-00002.


The presence of dissatisfaction with life or thoughts of death or suicide has been variously surveyed in adolescent samples and in the general population, but there is a paucity of research on the elderly. The aim of this study was to assess, in an elderly community-dwelling population: a) the prevalence of death and/or suicidal feelings and thoughts and any attempted suicides; and b) factors associated with these experiences. A total of 611 over-65-year-old subjects were interviewed at home. Seventeen percent of the total (F:M = almost 2:1) responded affirmatively to at least one of the questions on suicidality. Elderly people reporting suicidal feelings presented markedly higher levels of physical and psychological distress, such as depression, anxiety, and hostility. Results indirectly confirm that depressive symptomatology is not adequately treated. Greater attention is warranted in psychological evaluation of the elderly to take into account those risk factors that, if identified and managed, could reduce the frequency of suicidal thoughts and, probably, associated actions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aging / psychology
  • Anxiety Disorders / diagnosis
  • Anxiety Disorders / epidemiology
  • Anxiety Disorders / psychology
  • Attitude to Death
  • Depressive Disorder / diagnosis
  • Depressive Disorder / epidemiology
  • Depressive Disorder / psychology
  • Female
  • Geriatric Assessment / statistics & numerical data*
  • Health Status
  • Hostility
  • Humans
  • Italy / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Prevalence
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales / statistics & numerical data
  • Quality of Life
  • Sex Factors
  • Suicide / psychology*
  • Suicide / statistics & numerical data
  • Suicide, Attempted / psychology
  • Suicide, Attempted / statistics & numerical data