Suicide and the Elderly: An Annotated Bibliography and Review

Suicide and the Elderly: An Annotated Bibliography and Review

Suicide and the Elderly: An Annotated Bibliography and Review

Suicide and the Elderly: An Annotated Bibliography and Review


An overview of the gerontological suicide literature is followed by a guide to bibliographies, indexes, and abstracts dealing with elderly suicide. The largest portion of the book is devoted to thorough annotations of individual references organized in three categories--case studies, surveys, and empirical investigations. Non-English language works are considered separately. A demographic appendix drawn from official statistical sources for the United States presents tables and graphs of suicide data by age, sex, and race. Annotation(c) 2003 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (


The annotated bibliographies in this series provide answers to the fundamental question, "What is known?" Their purpose is simple, yet profound: to provide comprehensive reviews and references for the work done in various fields of gerontology. They are based on the fact that it is no longer possible for anyone to comprehend the vast body of research and writing in even one sub-specialty without years of work.

This fact has become true only in recent years. When I was an undergraduate (Class of '52) I think no one at Duke had even heard of gerontology. Almost no one in the world was identified as a gerontologist. Now there are over 5,000 professional members of the Gerontological Society of America. There were no courses in gerontology. Now there are thousands of courses offered by most major (and many minor) colleges and universities. There was only one journal (the Journal of Gerontology), begun in 1945. Now there are a dozen professional journals and several dozen books in gerontology published each year.

The reasons for this dramatic growth are well known: the dramatic increase in numbers of aged, the shift from family to public responsibility for the security and care of the elderly, the recognition of aging as a "social problem," and the growth of science in general. It is less well known that this explosive growth in knowledge has developed the need for new solutions to the old problem of comprehending and "keeping up" with a field of knowledge. The old indexes and library card catalogues have become increasingly inadequate for the job. On-line computer indexes and abstracts are one solution, but they make no evaluative selections and do not organize sources logically as is done here.

These bibliographies will be obviously useful for researchers who need to know what research has (or has not) been done in their field. The annotations contain enough information so that the researcher usually does not have to search out the original articles. In the past, the "review of the literature" has often been haphazard and was rarely comprehensive, because of the large investment of time (and money) that would be required by a truly comprehensive review. Now, using these bibliographies, researchers can be more confident that they are not missing important previous research; they can be more confident that they are not duplicating past efforts and "reinventing the wheel." It may well become standard and expected practice for researchers to consult such bibliographies, even before they start . . .

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