Psychologie & NeuroPsychiatrie du vieillissement


Conduites suicidaires et dépression du sujet âgé Volume 2, supplement 1, Supplément, septembre 2004


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Service hospitalo‐universitaire de psychiatrie, Centre hospitalier de Versailles nbazin@ch‐versailles.fr

Twenty per cent of the annual 12,000 deaths by suicide in France occur in subjects aged over 65. The rate of suicide by age in the population increases with aging. Aged people usually commit suicide by more violent means than younger people. Overall, the risk of suicide is multiplied by 20 in depressed subjects and by 40 in case of previous suicide attempt. This risk is probably higher in the aged. Suicide attempts are always to be sternly considered in aged people on account of the risk of a second successful attempt but also of a diminished life expectancy due to somatic as well as psychiatric reasons. Suicidal ideas are frequent in aged subjects but they strongly suggest depression which should be actively investigated. The so‐called existential suicide, expression of the free will of subjects devoid of any psychiatric disorder who want, willingly and consciously, make an end to their life, probably exists. However, the high frequency of depression associated with suicide induces to be especially watchful in case of suicide ideas or previous suicide attempt in aged subjects.