The Effect of Life Transitions on Suicide in the Elderly

Brenda Ohta, Arizona State University
Leah Rohlfsen, Arizona State University

In comparison to the general U.S. population, suicide rates among the elderly are disproportionately high. However, most research on suicide categorizes the elderly as one homogeneous group, age 65 and above. Within-cohort heterogeneity among the elderly is generally not addressed within the literature. This study examines the impact of suicide on specific age segments with the 65+ population, as well as the relationship between suicide and later life transitions. Utilizing data from the National Longitudinal Mortality Study, suicide risk is assessed for three age subgroups of older adults, in comparison to those aged 55-64. Gender, race, income, and the impact of transitions to retirement and widowhood are also considered. Results indicate heterogeneity among older adults with regard to risk for death by suicide, that females may experience higher than expected risk, and that those most at risk of death by suicide are in their immediate post-retirement years of 65-74.

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Presented in Poster Session 7