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Elderly Suicide Rate Up 500 Percent Over Two Decades.

Posted July. 21, 2005 03:05,   


In the case of the elderly aged 65 years or older, most males died of lung cancer and stomach cancer, while females mostly suffered from and died of brain artery diseases, according to a recent survey.

Not only that, as the number of single-living elderly people has been growing, their suicide rate has been on a steep rise, recording a 500 percent increase over two decades. And the suicide rate of elderly males is twice that of elderly females.

As of 2003, the number of aged people who die of cancer is 961.2 out of every 100,000 people, indicating that cancer is the main culprit in elderly deaths, followed by brain artery diseases (744.2), heart diseases (310.8) and diabetes (223.7), according to an analysis on the causes of death of aged people released on July 20 by the National Statistics Office.

In the case of elderly males, cancer was the most common cause of death. Of every 100,000 people, 1,515.8 elderly males died of cancer, followed by brain artery disease (809,7), heart diseases (330.0), chronic respiratory diseases (307.9), and diabetes (238.5). In the meantime, for elderly females, brain artery disease (703.3) was the most common cause of death, followed by cancer (615.1), heart disease (298.9), and diabetes (214.5).

The death rate from lung cancer, stomach cancer, liver cancer, is still the highest, but colon cancer, pancreas cancer, and other cancers are a growing concern in addition to the increase in the cancer death rate of the elderly.

The number of elderly people who died of colon cancer increased 6.8 times over the two decades from 1983 to 2003, and the rate increased 7.2 times and almost seven times for pancreas cancer and diabetes, respectively. In the case of diabetes, the figure has risen from 33.4 in 1983 to 223.7 in 2003.

Meanwhile, the suicide rate of the elderly has increased more than five times from 14.3 out of every 100,000 people in 1983 to 72.5 people in 2003.

In 2003 alone, the number of elderly males who committed suicide was 113.4 out of every 100,000, twice as much as elderly females (46.9). The figure has continually increased from 36.5 in 2000 and 42.2 in 2001 to 55.8 in 2002.

Chang-Won Kim changkim@donga.com