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Cultural Issues in Suicide and Old Age

Cultural Issues in Suicide and Old Age

Abstract

<p>Suicide rates increase with the aging process much more in the Latin countries than in the Anglo-Saxon ones. This phenomenon is most probably tied to cultural differences; in any case, it seriously questions the representation of the elderly people in Latin societies. An examination of possible explanatory factors has already been presented in previous issues of this journal [ DeLeo, 1998 , 1999 ]. What deserves further evaluation is perhaps the striking difference in the ranking of suicide rates in Western countries, especially for the two great cultural blocks previously mentioned. If we look at the Table 1 (kindly prepared by Kerryn Neulinger, Australian Institute for Suicide Research and Prevention), which concerns male subjects, we immediately realize how big the difference between Anglo-Saxon and Latin countries truly is: The former group, represented particularly by nations such as New Zealand, Australia, Canada, and United States (the “dollar culture”), occupies the very first positions in the ranking of suicide rates in the age group 15–24, while Latin countries such as Spain, Italy, and Portugal are at the very bottom of this list. The reverse, however, is true for the old-age groups, especially for those aged 75 and more, with Australia,
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