a1 Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, Scotland, UK
Suicide is a major health issue worldwide and is among the top ten causes of death in many countries. Much research, media attention and public health initiatives are focused on reducing the suicide rate among adolescents and young adults. In many countries, however, it is the elderly population with the greatest number of suicides, the majority of which die by drug overdose. This is commonly explained by an increased suicidal intent among older people due to co-morbidity and social isolation. The physical vulnerability of elderly people to potential toxins however is also likely to play an important role. This review examines the epidemiology of elderly suicide, considers commonly implicated drugs, and discusses associated risk factors in this complex and multifactorial problem.
c1 Address for correspondence: E Sandilands, NPIS Edinburgh, Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh, 51 Little France Crescent, Edinburgh EH16 4SA.