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Nursing home suicides-a psychological autopsy study

  • Suominen, K
  • Henriksson, M
  • Isometsä, E
Julkaistu 2.6.2004

Nursing home suicides-a psychological autopsy study

Publication: Int J Geriatr Psychiatry. 2003 Dec;18(12):1095-101.

Authors: Suominen K, Henriksson M, Isometsa E, Conwell Y, Heila H, Lonnqvist J.

Department of Mental Health and Alcohol Research, National Public Health Institute, Helsinki, Finland. kirsi.suominen@ktl.fi

Objective: Older adults comprise a fifth of all suicides. Elders are the fastest growing part of the population, thus the number of persons needing nursing home care will increase dramatically in the near future. Little information has been available about suicides in nursing homes. The present study described all suicides among older adults in nursing homes in Finland during a 12-month period emphasizing the factors that have been found to be associated with suicide in the general elderly population.

Methods: Drawing on data from a psychological autopsy study of all suicides (n=1397) in Finland during one year, all suicides committed by patients in nursing homes were identified. Retrospective DSM-IV consensus diagnoses were assigned.

Results: Twelve elderly (aged 60 years or more) nursing home residents who died by suicide, 0.9% of all suicides, were identified. The primary finding of the present study was that nursing home residents who died by suicide had suffered from highly comorbid somatopsychiatric disorders. One or more diagnoses on Axis I were made for all who died by suicide in nursing home. Depressive syndrome was diagnosed in three-quarters of subjects. Only a third of these were identified to have suffered from depressive symptoms before their death.

Conclusions: Early recognition and adequate treatment of both somatic diseases and mental disorders, particularly depression, as well as early recognition of suicide risk among nursing home residents, are needed in order to prevent suicide.

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