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Sex Differences in Suicide Incident Characteristics and Circumstances among Older Adults: Surveillance Data from the National Violent Death Reporting System—17 U.S. States, 2007–2009
  • Published Date:
    Aug 23 2011
  • Source:
    Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2011; 8(8):3479-3495.
Filetype[PDF - 258.24 KB]


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  • Description:
    Each year in the U.S. more than 7,000 adults aged 60 years and older die of suicide and as the population ages, these numbers are expected to increase. While sex is an important predictor of older adult suicide, differences between males and females are often overlooked due to low occurrence, particularly among women. The National Violent Death Reporting System (NVDRS) bridges this gap by providing detailed information on older adult suicide by sex in 17 US states (covering approximately 26% of the U.S. population). NVDRS data for 2007-2009 were used to characterize male (n = 5,004) and female (n = 1,123) suicide decedents aged 60 years and older, including incident characteristics and circumstances precipitating suicide. Stratification of NVDRS data by sex shows significant differences with regard to the presence of antidepressants (19% and 45% respectively), opiates (18%, 37%), and 14 precipitating circumstances concerning mental health, interpersonal problems, life stressors and a history of suicide attempts. No differences were found for alcohol problems, suicide/other death of family or friends, non-criminal legal problems, financial problems, or disclosure of intent to take their own life. The findings of this study demonstrate the value of using comprehensive surveillance data to understand sex-specific suicide circumstances so that opportunities for targeted prevention strategies may be considered.

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