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Suicidal older folks more likely to be hospitalized

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Adults 65 years of age or older with self-inflicted injuries are more likely than their younger counterparts to be hospitalized, according to a report released Thursday.

According to the report, roughly 71 percent of older adults who visit the ER for self-inflicted injury end up being hospitalized compared with just 42.8 percent of adults between 20 and 34 years of age. Hospital admission rates for adults 35 to 49 and 50 to 64 years of age were 53.2 percent and 56.4 percent, respectively.

"Because the older adult population is the fastest growing age group of the US population, the number of self-inflicted injuries in this group is likely to increase," according to the report. The current findings "illustrate the need for primary prevention measures that focus on the older adult population."

Researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention analyzed data from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance All Injury Program to assess the occurrence of self-inflicted injuries among older adults in the US in 2005.

The findings show that 7,105 older adults visited the ER for a self-inflicted injury in 2005, which represents 19.3 visits per 100,000 population. Rates in other age groups were higher, and people between 20 and 34 years of age had the highest rate: 223.6 per 100,000 population.

Over 80 percent of the visits in older adults involved suicidal behavior, according to the report. About 55 percent of the older adults with self-inflicted injury were female and 45 percent were male. Non-hispanic whites accounted for the bulk of the injuries: 69.8 percent.

In all age groups, poisoning accounted for more than half of the injuries seen, the report indicates. Depression was the most common mental health condition documented in all age groups.

SOURCE: Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, September 27, 2007
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