Suicide in the elderly: a frightful awareness

Crisis. 1991 Sep;12(2):81-7.


Suicide in the elderly still remains a neglected topic. Our knowledge of basic characteristics of suicide in late life is still very limited. Physical disease, bereavement, isolation, and dependency in elderly people create the aura of rationality frequently and unrightfully attached to suicide in the elderly. Rationality may contribute to a final decision to end one's life. But rationality may also be a very misleading concept for a proper explanation of suicidal behavior. The discussion of the rationality of suicide in late life deserves good and thorough research. A political debate on this matter obscures the true reasons elderly have for committing suicide. Anxiety, fears, or threats of losing core aspects of one's identity are much more promising concepts for the study of late life suicide. The tendency to see many problematic situations as naturally tied to the aging process still exists and is pervasive. We hope that the material collected in this issue will stimulate better thinking and better research on late life suicide.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Awareness*
  • Humans
  • Public Opinion*
  • Risk Factors
  • Sick Role
  • Suicide / psychology*
  • Suicide Prevention*