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Type: Journal article
Title: Suicide methods in the elderly in South Australia 1981-2000
Author: Byard, R.
Hanson, K.
Gilbert, J.
Citation: Journal of Clinical Forensic and Legal Medicine: an international journal of forensic and legal medicine, 2004; 11(2):71-74
Publisher: Churchill Livingstone
Issue Date: 2004
ISSN: 1353-1131
Statement of
R.W. Byard, K.A. Hanson and J.D. Gilbert
Abstract: The files of the Forensic Science Centre in Adelaide, Australia were examined over a 20-year period from 1981 to 2000 for cases of suicide in individuals aged 65 years and over. A total of 445 cases were found (13.8% of all suicides) with an age range of 65–94 years (average=73.5 years). All cases had undergone full autopsies and police investigation. There were significantly more male than female victims; M:F=330:115 (p<0.001). Hangings accounted for the highest proportion of cases (107/445; 24%) followed by gunshot wounds (96/445; 21.6%), drug toxicity (82/435; 18.9%), drowning (66/445; 14.8%), and carbon monoxide toxicity (52/445; 11.7%). A miscellaneous group accounted for 42 of 445 cases (9.2%). No significant changes occurred in either the total suicide rate or in the rates in males and females, except for drowning deaths in males, which showed a significant decrease over time (p<0.01). Female victims tended to avoid violent methods such as gunshot wounds in favour of drug overdose. Gunshot wound deaths were far less common than published data from other countries would indicate, with relative increases in deaths due to hanging, drug toxicity, drowning and carbon monoxide toxicity. An awareness of the considerable variability that occurs among populations in suicide methods and rates is important in determining local requirements for suicide prevention campaigns.
Keywords: suicide
drug toxicity
Rights: Copyright © 2003 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.
DOI: 10.1016/j.jcfm.2003.10.005
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