Magazine article Clinical Psychiatry News

Pain, Bipolar, Depression: Some Illnesses Flag Risk of Suicide in Elderly

Magazine article Clinical Psychiatry News

Pain, Bipolar, Depression: Some Illnesses Flag Risk of Suicide in Elderly

Article excerpt

HONOLULU -- Certain illnesses are associated with an increased risk of suicide in elderly patients, Dr. Nathan Herrmann reported at the annual meeting of the American Association for Geriatric Psychiatry.

Severe pain, bipolar, depression and anxiety, and sleep disorders were more common in patients who committed suicide, and the presence of multiple disorders exacerbated the risk of suicide further, Dr. Herrmann of the University of Toronto said in a poster presentation.

Since doctors, nurses, and other health care professionals often see these patients in the weeks and months before their deaths, they should be more alert to the warning signs of possible suicide and be prepared to intervene, the investigator said.

Dr. Herrmann and his associates examined the records of 1,329 people aged 66 or older who committed suicide between Jan. 1, 1992, and Dec. 31, 2000, comparing them with 5,315 randomly matched control subjects with similar demographic features. The subjects were assumed to have a certain illness if their records revealed prescriptions for drugs associated with that illness. For example, a prescription for benzodiazepines was considered evidence of anxiety disorder. …

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