Margda Wærn, MD, PhD, Institute of Clinical Neuroscience, Sahlgrenska University Hospital, Göteborg, Sweden.
Seniors who commit suicide often consult their doctors a short time before they take their lives, but few communicate their suicide intent. Rather, they may focus on somatic complaints. This paper reviews the literature on the connection between physical illness and suicide. Recent research shows that over half of those who commit suicide late in life suffer from serious physical illness or impairment. The association between physical illness and suicide may be stronger in men than in women. Since most physically ill persons who commit suicide suffer from depression, depression should be treated aggressively in seniors with concomitant physical disorders.
Key words: suicide, suicide attempts, physical illness, depression, elderly.