Building Healthy Communities Program Seminar Series, Suicide in the very old: The extremes of the gender paradox
Presented by Emeritus Prof Diego De Leo AO, DSc, Emeritus Professor of Psychiatry, Griffith University
Monday 26 June, 2017
In the western world, mood disorders are strongly associated with suicide deaths, particularly in late life. Compared to males who have the highest rates of suicide, rates of depression are consistently reported as higher in prevalence in female subjects of any age; however, with advancing age, suicide rates ratio between males and females increases further, the arms of the scissor reaching their maximum width in centenarians. Importantly, suicide rates among males continue to increase, while those of females generally tend to decline at very advanced age. Of course, this phenomenon varies with local cultures. This lecture will examine possible factors that differentiate age sub-groups, making suicide at a very advanced age a rather unique aggregation of existential difficulties, especially for older males. Loneliness, poor physical health, and financial insecurity are among those factors that may particularly differentiate males from female individuals. Suicide prevention in older adults should broaden its focus and pay attention to the many socio-environmental conditions that may be relevant in late life.
Emeritus Professor Diego de Leo AO, DSc
Diego de Leo is Emeritus Professor of Psychiatry at Griffith University. Recognised internationally as a leading scholar in the field of suicide research and prevention, he was the Director of the Australian Institute for Suicide Research and Prevention (AISRAP) from 1998 to 2015. He was the founder of the Life Promotion Clinic based at Griffith University's Mount Gravatt campus, which is still the only outpatient clinic in Australia dealing exclusively with suicidal clients, and also the former convenor of the Master Courses in Suicidology at Griffith University, the only postgraduate qualification in suicide prevention and suicidology in Australia. He was a consultant for the 11th revision of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD) and contributed to the WHO World Suicide Report "Preventing suicide: A global imperative. Professor de Leo is Past President of the International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP) and co-founder and Past President of the International Academy for Suicide Research (IASR) of which he also co-founded the journal Archives of Suicide Research. He is Director Emeritus of the World Health Organization (WHO) Collaborating Centre for Research and Training in Suicide Prevention. Prof de Leo is the originator of the World Suicide Prevention Day (2003), a global initiative of the World Health Organization. He is presently the Chair of the College of Presidents (IASP) and Vice-President of the Italian Psychogeriatric Association. Head of the Slovene Centre for Suicide Research, he is the Director of the Department of Psychology, University of Primorska, Slovenia. Member of the Editorial board of several international journals, he is the Editor-inChief of the journal CRISIS. Professor de Leo has published extensively with more than 400 peer-reviewed journal articles, 180 book chapters, 38 volumes, and over 250 conference presentations. Winner of several national and international awards, in 2007 he received the title of Doctor of Science by Griffith University for his work on Suicidology and Psychogeriatrics. On 26 January 2013 he was appointed as an Officer in the General Division of the Order of Australia, awarded for "distinguished service to medicine in the field of psychiatry as a researcher and through the creation of national and international strategies for suicide prevention". In 2015 he received the LiFE Award for Excellence in Suicide Prevention and in 2017 was announced as a recipient of the Morselli Medal, for an outstanding lifetime contribution to the study of suicidal behaviour. His current research topics include definitional issues and data quality in suicide statistics, suicidal behaviour across different cultures, and bereavement from suicide and other traumatic deaths.