The purpose of this study was to investigate the prevalence and comorbidity of current mental disorders defined by DSM-III-R among elderly suicide victims and to compare them with the mental disorders among younger victims. Using a psychological autopsy method, we collected comprehensive data on all suicides in Finland during 1 year. Retrospective Axis I-III consensus diagnoses were assigned to a random sample consisting of 43 victims aged 60 years or over and 186 victims aged under 60 from the nationwide suicide population. At least one Axis I diagnosis was made for 91% of the elderly victims. Major depression as the principal diagnosis was more common among the elderly victims. Almost all elderly female victims were major depressives. Psychiatric comorbidity was more common among elderly male than among elderly female victims. More of the elderly victims (88%) than the younger (36%) received Axis III diagnoses. Suicide among the elderly without a diagnosable mental disorder and somatopsychiatric comorbidity seems to be rare.
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