Mental Disorder and Suicide in Third Age Individuals

Author/s: Olga Velentza, Evengelos Fradelos

DOI: 10.12738/SM.2016.2.0020

Year: 2016 Vol: 2 Number: 2

Abstract

In later life, suicide is at least two times more common than in the general population. Although the number of suicide attempts decreases in old age, the number of successful suicides increases. It is telling that while there is one fatality for every 10-20 suicide attempts in the general population, a fatal suicide occurs once in every 4 attempts in the elderly. It should be noted that suicidal behavior in the elderly indicates a genuine wish to die and is highly related with depression. The purpose of this study is to record the problems that lead older people to attempt suicide and to find ways to treat mental disorders in order to reduce suicide attempts. The results show that according to epidemiological studies, the overall prevalence of mental disorders in the elderly is approximately 25%. A third of this percentage represents serious disturbances, 4-5% represent senile and arteriosclerotic dementia, 1% represents melancholic situations, 1- 2% represent chronic delusional states, and two thirds represent mild or minor disorders, mental retardation that has not reached dementia, depressive or established character neuroses. Senile psychiatric diseases occupy the third place among all illnesses after cardiovascular disease and cancer. According to current predictions, is expected to increase by 300% over the next 30 years. This study’s conclusions state that both demographic and epidemiological studies foresee rising problem in the following years which will be exclusively related to the gerontology sector given that one in every two Europeans will be over 55 years of age. This group of physical, social, economic, political, and pathological problems will have a haunting effect on European society.

Keywords
Third age, Elderly suicidal behavior, Mental disorders