SUICIDE AND AGING: INTERNATIONAL
Gary J. Kennedy, M.D., and Stacey Tanenbaum, M.D.
From Durkheim to Kraepelin, suicide has been recognized as a social and psychi-
atric ill. Among clinical scientists in the United States, interest in suicide grew
substantially in the 1980’s as rates among older adults increased. However, ma-
jor advances in the science of mental health seem unlikely to reduce the preva-
lence of suicide as long as case recognition at the community level continues to
be problematic. Public policy promoted to reduce social risk factors coupled with
greater attention to psychopathology is the logical outgrowth from the most re-
cent data. Differences in suicide rates by nation add weight to the argument.
Although both social and psychopathological factors contribute to
suicidal vulnerability, recent work has focused on the latter. Clin-
ical scientists argue that depression (1,2) and serotonergic distur-
bances (3) are the driving force behind late life suicide. In contrast
sociologists and journalists assert that the increase in late life
suicides reﬂects elder fears of dependency, institutionalization,
and unwanted invasive care (4,5). The availability of ﬁrearms
Dr. Kennedy is Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Science, Albert Ein-
stein College of Medicine and Director, Division of Geriatric Psychiatry, Mon-
teﬁore Medical Center and Bronx Psychiatric Center. Dr. Tanenbaum is a Resi-
dent Physician in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Science, Albert
Einstein College of Medicine, Monteﬁore Medical Center.
Address correspondence to Dr. Kennedy at Monteﬁore Medical Center, 111
East 210th Street, Bronx, NY 10467-2490; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
PSYCHIATRIC QUARTERLY, Vol. 71, No. 4, Winter 2000
0033-2720/00/1200-0345$18.00/0 2000 Human Sciences Press, Inc.