Psychogical autopsies into suicide among the elderly in Rio de Janeiro

Maria Cecília de Souza Minayo Fátima Gonçalves Cavalcante Raimunda Matilde do Nascimento Mangas Juliana Rangel Alves de Souza

This study analyses psychological autopsies and contextualizes problems and issues that led to elderly people taking their own lives in the city of Rio de Janeiro between 2004 and 2007. The study began with an analysis of 26 expert findings of elderly men and women who committed suicide in the central, northern and southern areas of Rio de Janeiro. The sample was contacted by letter and telephone and after that, by a one-on-one conversation. Eight psychological autopsies were conducted, in which identification data and family genograms were collected followed by an interview to profile the life style and the reasons for the self-inflicted violence. The interviewees were family members, friends and acquaintances of the victims. The suicides are associated with depression, serious physical and mental illness, as well as socio-cultural factors related to professional and socio-economic decline. The suicides occurred with and without family support, with and without medical care. The cumulative fragility of personal and social resources within the life cycle reveals that the risk of suicide among the elderly demands permanent care from the public health authorities.

Suicide; Suicide among the elderly; Psychological autopsies


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