Clinical management of suicidality in the elderly: an opportunity for involvement in the lives of older patients

Can J Psychiatry. 2007 Jun;52(6 Suppl 1):47S-57S.


Objective: To review the risk factors for suicide in the elderly and available interventions to avert this tragedy.

Method: Systematic literature review, based on a PubMed search for studies in English. Included were randomized controlled trials (RCTs), controlled cohort studies, and case-control studies. Wherever possible, I reviewed papers dealing with suicide rather than suicide attempts or suicide ideation.

Results: The search for risk factors yielded 2 relevant cohort studies and 17 relevant case-control studies. Relevant to the matter of intervention were 2 RCTs and 5 cohort studies.

Conclusions: Being male as well as having mental illness (particularly depression), physical illness, and interpersonal discord are all risk factors for suicide in the elderly. There is evidence to suggest that conscientious, systematic treatment of depression in elderly individuals reduces the rate of suicide in the elderly.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Health Services / organization & administration*
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Risk Factors
  • Suicide, Attempted / prevention & control*
  • Suicide, Attempted / psychology*