One-year prevalence of death thoughts, suicide ideation and behaviours in an elderly population

Int J Geriatr Psychiatry. 2002 Sep;17(9):842-6. doi: 10.1002/gps.691.


Background: Suicidality is constituted by all those phenomena that are apparently positioned along a continuum, with the two extremes represented by death wishes and completed suicide.

Objectives: The aim of this paper is to show the one-year prevalence of the phenomena constituting this possible continuum in the elderly population (aged 65 years and over) of a northern Italian city and to evaluate the relationship between some of these phenomena with psychological suffering.

Method: Emotional feelings and suicidal thoughts have been investigated by an epidemiological survey conducted in a central quarter of that city. Data on attempted and completed suicide derived from the data bank of the Padua's WHO Collaborating Centre for Research and Training in Suicide Prevention that monitors these phenomena since 1989.

Results and conclusions: Results suggest the existence of some continuity in suicidal phenomena, where prevalence decreases from those of emotional/ideational nature to most extreme behaviour. Subjects presenting with more severe suicidal ideation were those also obtaining highest scores in a number of sub-scales of the Brief Symptom Inventory.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Attitude to Death*
  • Humans
  • Mental Disorders / diagnosis
  • Mental Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Mental Disorders / psychology
  • Prevalence
  • Suicide, Attempted / statistics & numerical data*
  • Thinking*