Evaluation of geriatric suicides in Turkey

J Forensic Leg Med. 2016 Nov;44:158-161. doi: 10.1016/j.jflm.2016.10.016. Epub 2016 Oct 24.


Introduction: Suicide is defined as an individual taking action towards themselves with the intention of terminating their own life. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), 800,000 deaths per year worldwide are due to suicide. In 2012, suicide cases constituted 1.4% of all the deaths worldwide. In most countries throughout the world, the suicide rates of the elderly are higher than those of other age groups. Epidemiological studies have concluded that suicide rates increase with advancing age in all societies, this increase accelerates after the age of 65 years and the highest rates are reached after the age of 75 years. The aim of this study was to evaluate the demographic features, suicide methods and reasons for suicide in geriatric suicide cases between 2009 and 2013 using the data of the Turkish Statistics Institute (TUIK).

Material and methods: A retrospective evaluation was made of the TUIK data related to proven suicide cases aged 65 years and older in the 5-year period of 2009-2013.

Results: A total of 1723 geriatric suicides were determined in Turkey between 2009 and 2013. These comprised 1284 (74.5%) males and 439 (25.5%) females, showing a rate of males approximately 3 times higher than that of females. An increase of approximately 10% was seen in the deaths by suicide in 2013 compared to 2009. The highest rate of geriatric suicides within total geriatric deaths was observed to be in 2012 (15.2%) and the lowest rate was in 2010 (12.4%). The most common method of suicide in both genders was hanging. In the majority of cases of geriatric suicide of both genders, the reason could not be determined. In those cases where the reason was known, the most common reason was illness.

Conclusion: It has been reported that the most significant factors in suicide prevention are friends and family. As there continues to be an extensive family structure and family connections are strong in Turkey, this can be considered to be one of the reasons for lower rates of geriatric suicide compared to other countries. As there is a strong adherence to Islam in Turkey, another significant reason for the low rate could be the effect of the belief that suicide is a sin in the Islamic religion.

Keywords: Forensic medicine; Geriatrics; Suicide.

MeSH terms

  • Aged / statistics & numerical data*
  • Asphyxia / mortality
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Neck Injuries / mortality
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sex Distribution
  • Suicide / statistics & numerical data*
  • Turkey / epidemiology
  • Wounds, Gunshot / mortality