|Budget Amount *help
¥1,900,000 (Direct Cost : ¥1,900,000)
Fiscal Year 1998 : ¥600,000 (Direct Cost : ¥600,000)
Fiscal Year 1997 : ¥700,000 (Direct Cost : ¥700,000)
Fiscal Year 1996 : ¥600,000 (Direct Cost : ¥600,000)
Although individuals aged 65 and older accounted for about 16% of the total population of Japan in 1997, there were 6,409 suicides in the same age group, constituting about 26% of all suicides in the same year. Various studies have predicted that the elderly population will grow more rapidly in Japan than in other countries in the early 21st century. Therefore, suicide prevention is and will be a serious mental health issue in Japan.
This investigation has focused on characteristics of suicide in the late life based on psychological autopsy methods. It has revealed that mental disorders which were neither diagnosed properly nor given appropriate treatment existed behind suicidal crisis. Among these disorders, depression was the most serious risk factor. Elderly depressed patients do not often develop typical symptoms of depressed mood or psychomotor retardation, but have various physical complaints. Elderly depressed patients, their families, and primary care physicians whom such elderly patients often see underestimate such suicidal signs in many cases. This study has also revealed other suicidal risk factors characteristic for elderly patients. Therefore, programs should be developed to educate the public, primary care physicians and mental health care providers on the accurate knowledge of suicidal crisis in the late life.
Because this study has been done based on psychological autopsy methods, the impact on the survivors afflicted by suicide were also investigated. Even if the suicides were elderly, suicide often brought the survivors complicated psychological symptoms such as denial, depression, anxiety, self-guilt, somatization, anger, rationalization, etc. Therefore, effort for suicide prevention is an important mental health activity not only for those who are planning to kill themselves but also their significant others who should deal with suicidal people in daily life.