Suicidal behavior in late life: reasons and reactions to it

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De Leo, D
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Today, suicide in old age has the highest rates nearly everywhere, all over the world. Suicide rates in the general population have recorded important declines in the last two decades (Naghavi et al., 2019), and, globally, the greatest declines have been noted precisely among older adults (Naghavi et al., 2019). These positive figures and trends have not been attributed to any specific campaigns aiming at the prevention of suicide in old age but have been rather directed to highlight the improvements in general health care and in quality of life of people; the most fragile segment of population, older adults, seems to have particularly benefitted from these improvements. In addition, in a number of countries, poverty rates have ameliorated proportionately in older individuals more than in younger age groups (OECD, 2017). According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, poverty rates of people aged over 65 years were very high in Australia (34%), with Korea (50%) and Mexico (27%) among the poorest (OECD, 2017). Suicide rates have not been declining in Australia for at least the last decade, and, contrarily to what has been witnessed by most western countries, it is possible that the lack of substantial improvement in poverty rates may be correlated to the lack of improvement in suicide rates. A similar argument has been proposed by Stack on the observation of the Gini indices of a number of countries, with the USA presenting the highest income inequality (Gini Index) and being virtually the only western country with a steep rise in suicide rates (Stack, 2018).

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International Psychogeriatrics
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© International Psychogeriatric Association 2019. This is the author-manuscript version of this paper. Reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher. Please refer to the journal's website for access to the definitive, published version.
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De Leo, D, Suicidal behavior in late life: reasons and reactions to it., International Psychogeriatrics, 2019, 31 (11), pp. 1531-1533