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The Growing Use of Firearm by Suicidal Older Women, 1979-1992: A Research Note.

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Publication Date: October 2010

Publisher(s): Suicide and Life-Threatening Behavior

Author(s): M.S. Kaplan; M.E. Adamek


Special Collection: The Joyce Foundation


Keywords: suicide; elderly woman; firearms

Type: Report

Coverage: United States


Suicide among older women (65 +) has received very little attention despite increasing numbers of suicides in this population. This study examined national mortality data from the National Center for Health Statistics for the years 1979 through 1992. It shows an increasing trend in rates of suicide among older women and a declining trend among women under 65.

Over the 14-year period, firearms replaced poisoning as the most prevalent method of suicide by women 65 and over. The results seem consistent with the assertion that the availability, familiarity, and cultural acceptability of firearms may play a role in the choice of suicide method among older women. Although violent death and the use of firearms are generally associated with males in our society, the trends reported here indicate that greater attention to firearm suicides among older women is warranted.