Behavior Characteristics and Risk Factors for Suicide Among the Elderly in Rural China

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Abstract

We examine the characteristics of suicide behavior and associated risk factors in the elderly in rural China, compared with the nonelderly. Paired case-control design and psychological autopsy were used for subject recruitment and data collection. The included cases were 104 suicides of the elderly aged 60 years or older, 86 suicides of the nonelderly, and sex- and age-paired controls from the same villages. Although the characteristics of suicide behavior were similar between the two age groups of victims, the elderly who died by suicide had a greater tendency to experience negative life events and not live with a spouse. Suicide of the nonelderly was associated with family history of suicide, poor social support, and impulsivity. The influence of negative life events on the risk of suicide was greater in the elderly. Thus, efforts for suicide prevention must be tailored to the needs of specific age groups.

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