Age Differences in Behaviors Leading to Completed Suicide

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The authors described retrospectively the premorbid self-destructive behaviors of suicide victims to determine whether these behaviors differ with age. One hundred forty-one suicide victims, age 21–92 years, were studied by psychological autopsy. Older age was significantly associated with more determined and planful self-destructive acts, less violent methods, and fewer warnings of suicidal intent. Age differences in the behaviors leading to suicide indicate that intervention in the midst of a suicidal crisis may be less effective in elderly persons than in younger people. Primary prevention should be the focus of efforts to decrease suicide rates in late life.

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