Among risk factors for suicide, suicidal ideation (SID) is of paramount importance. This study sought to determine sex- and age-related SID point prevalence rates in the general population. A population-based survey of 3154 subjects, 35 to 84 years, conducted in 2004/05 in southern Germany, identified 170 subjects (5.4%; 95% CI 4.6-6.2) suffering from SID within the last 14 days. Age-adjusted short-term period prevalence in women (6.0%, 95% CI 4.9.-7.2) was higher than in men (4.0%, 95% CI 3.1-5.1). Among 10-year age groups, sex-related differences were only significant in middle-aged subjects (55-64 years). Prevalence increased significantly with age, leading to a prevalence of >10% in the oldest age group (75-84 years). The population-based approach demonstrates a substantial proportion of subjects suffering from SID, particularly in older age groups.