Friday, 22 August 2003: 09:00-10:30
Superior Room (Sheraton Hotel and Towers)

S102 Risk Factors in Late Life Suicide: A Comparison of East and West

The rates and pattern of elderly suicides differ greatly around the world, but in almost all countries reported suicide rates are highest among the elderly, a fact that underscores the social, economic and physical hardships faced by the elderly and the high level of unmet mental health needs in the elderly. There are several possible explanations for these cross-national differences: 1) risk factors and protective factors for elderly suicide may be different in different countries; 2) the prevalence of risk factors that are common to elderly suicides in all countries could vary cross-nationally; 3) differences in the lethality of the methods used and the availability of resuscitation services could result in different fatality rates among elderly persons who attempt suicide; and 4) different countries may have varying rates of under-reporting of elderly suicides. Understanding the reasons for these differences in elderly suicide rates will help differentiate the universal and culture-specific factors that undermine the mental health of the elderly and, thus, aid in the development of country-specific suicide prevention programs for the elderly. By comparing the characteristics and risk factors for elderly suicides in four dramatically different settings—United States, China, Western Europe and Eastern Europe—this symposium will address a number of fundamental issues: 1) How do the social and demographic characteristics of elderly suicides differ in different countries? 2) Is pre-existing mental illness the most important determinant of elderly suicide in all cultures? 3) Are the short-term and long-term stressors that precipitate elderly suicides similar in different settings? 4) Does the relative contribution of biological and social factors to the risk for elderly suicide differ cross-culturally? 5) How do rapidly changing cultural values and economic conditions affect the mental health of the elderly? The implications of the cross-national differences identified by the presenters for the development of national and international programs to improve the mental health of the elderly and to reduce suicides in the elderly will be discussed.
Chairs:Michael Phillips
Michael Phillips
 S102-001 Suicide in the Second Half of Life: A Psychological Autopsy Study
Yeates Conwell, Paul Duberstein, Kenneth R. Conner, Shirley Eberley, Holly Wadkins, Eric Caine
 S102-002 Elderly suicides in China: A controlled psychological autopsy study
Michael Phillips, Michael Phillips
 S102-003 Suicide Rates of the Elderly in Eastern and Western Europe
Norman Sartorius

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