Abstract

Mendes da Camara M. Socio-Demographic Factors in Elderly Suicide in England & Wales 1991-2000. Report submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements of the Master of Science degree in Medical Demography, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, University of London. 2002.

The following study aims to analyse socio-demographic factors related to suicide in England & Wales between 1991 and 2000, using data from the Office for National Statistics Longitudinal Study (ONS LS). Suicide among the elderly (65 years and over) used to be the highest among all age group in the past. The risk factors that have been suggested to contribute to suicide included: deterioration of mental and physical health, being unmarried, gender, being economically deprived and living alone. From the data available, differentials in suicide regarding gender and age were analysed and observed in terms of marital status (including becoming widowed before and after the 1991 Census), indicators for socio-economic status (SES) at a personal level (car ownership/housing tenure) and area deprivation (using Carstairs deprivation score), long-term illness and household composition. From these it allows one to answer the following question: Which were the most relevant elements in predicting risk factors for suicide in the general population, as well as the male and female?
After calculating the suicide rates, and fitting Poisson regression models, it was possible to suggest that most of the variables analysed were relevant risk factors for males, and only very few for females. It was found that any of the household composition categories (although more importantly living alone), being divorced and widowed before 1991, having a long-term illness and any of the car ownership and living tenure categories were adverse risk elements for men, while a long-term illness and widowed after 1991 were the main adverse factors of elderly suicide for females.