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Unformatted text preview: Psychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences (2001), 55 , 605610 Regular Article Epidemiology of suicidal ideation and help-seeking behaviors among the elderly in Japan YUTAKA ONO, MD , 1 ERIKO TANAKA, ma , 2 HIROSHI OYAMA, MD , 3 KEIKO TOYOKAWA, 4 TAKESHI KOIZUMI, MD , 4 KIKU SHINOHE, 4 KYOKO SATOH, 4 EMIKO NISHIZUKA, 4 HARUE KOMINATO, 4 KENJI NAKAMURA, MD 5 AND KIMIO YOSHIMURA, MD 6 1 Department of Neuropsychiatry, School of Medicine, Keio University, 2 Department of Psychology, Keio University,Tokyo and Japan Society for the Promotion of Science,Tokyo, 3 Aomori Prefectural Mental Health and Welfare Center,Aomori, 4 Division of Health and Welfare, Nagawa Town,Aomori, 5 Department of Health and Welfare for Persons with Disabilities, Ministry of Health and Welfare,Tokyo, 6 Cancer Information and Epidemiology Division, National Cancer Center Research Institute,Tokyo, Japan Abstract This study offers an analysis of the elderly (over 65 years of age) among a general community population in terms of the percentages of: (i) persons with recurring thoughts of death and/or of committing suicide, and (ii) people who have consulted others, including medical professionals, with regard to these problems. Among 433 elderly over the age of 65 in one community in a town in Aomori Prefecture, 358 agreed to participate in the project. Forty-four participants (12.3%) responded that they had either thoughts of death or thoughts of suicide, and these thoughts had continued for more than 2 weeks in 12 participants (3.4%). Only 15 of the 44 suici- dal elderly responded that they had consulted someone about their problems. Although there are many elderly people exhibiting a subclinical depressive state with recurring thoughts of death or thoughts of suicide, the number of people who consult family members, professionals, or others is very low. This suggests the importance of community networking through educational activities so that people can more readily talk to and support one another. Key words depression, elderly, help-seeking behavior, Japan, suicide. INTRODUCTION According to the Brief report on suicides in 1999 (2000) by the Community Safety Bureau of the Com- munity Police Affairs Division in Japan, the annual number of suicides in Japan in 1997 was 24 391. This increased by more than 8000 to be 32 863 in 1998, which then increased to 33 048 in 1999. 1 These high numbers of suicides are problems from both the medical and social standpoints. Moreover, while the increasing suicide rate is particularly striking among men in their mid-fifties, also of great social concern is the suicide rate among the elderly over 65 years of age, which is high compared with other age groups. A regional difference in the elderly suicide rate is also seen, with the rate being higher in agricultural villages than in urban areas....
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