Elderly suicide in Hong Kong--a case-controlled psychological autopsy study

Acta Psychiatr Scand. 2004 Apr;109(4):299-305. doi: 10.1046/j.1600-0447.2003.00263.x.


Objective: To examine some of the risk factors for late life suicide in Hong Kong Chinese using a case-controlled psychological autopsy approach.

Method: Informants of 70 subjects aged 60 or above who had committed suicide as well as a community sample of 100 elderly controls were interviewed. Subjects and controls were assessed for the presence of mental illness, history of suicide attempt and data on health care utilization.

Results: Eighty-six per cent of suicide subjects suffered from a psychiatric problem before committing suicide, compared with 9% of control subjects. Among the psychiatric problems, major depression was the commonest diagnosis. Seventy-seven per cent of suicide subjects had consulted a doctor within 1 month of suicide. One-third of suicide subjects had a history of suicide attempt. Rates of current psychiatric diagnosis, rates of medical consultation and history of suicide attempt are all significantly higher in suicide subjects than controls.

Conclusion: Our findings support the view that depressive disorders and a past history of suicide attempt are risk factors of late-life suicide in the Chinese population of Hong Kong, similar to findings in western studies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Autopsy*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Female
  • Hong Kong / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Risk Factors
  • Suicide / statistics & numerical data*