Canadian Alliance on mental Illness and Mental Health Alliance Canadienne pour la Maladie Mentale et la Sante Mentale

National Guidelines for Seniors' Mental Health: The Assessment of Suicide Risk and Prevention of Suicide

Background of Issue:

In 2002, 430 Canadians 65 years of age or older (361 men and 69 women) died as a result of "intentional self-harm" (Statistics Canada, 2002). Older men are at especially high risk for suicide. The 1997 suicide rate for older Canadian men was nearly twice that of the national as a whole (Statistics Canada, 2005). It is widely believed that published suicide rates underestimate the total number of deaths by suicide, due, in part, to the stigma of suicide and other social pressures that may lead family members and health professionals to avoid labeling deaths as suicides. Approximately 1,000 older adults are admitted to Canadian hospitals each year as a consequence of intentional self-harm, but it is not known how often older people in Canada harm themselves without being admitted to hospital. As the older population increases over the coming decades in Canada (Statistics Canada, 1999), there will likely be a greater number of older lives lost to suicide.

Download a copy of The Assessment of Suicide Risk and Prevention of Suicide at no charge.

Learn more about how the Assessment of Suicide Risk and Prevention of Suicide guideline is being implemented throughout Canada in a variety of innovative pilot projects.

The Suicide Risk and Prevention Guideline Development Group included the following members:

Dr. Adrian Grek Co-Lead Psychiatry
Dr. Marnin Heisel Co-Lead Psychology
Dr. Sharon Moore Co-Lead Nursing
Fae Jackson Group Member Nursing
Gayle Vincent Group Member Research
Dr. Barry Hall Consultant Social Work
Dr. Paul Links Consultant Psychiatry
Myra Morrant Consultant Librarian
Nona Moscovitz Consultant Social Work
Isaac Sakinofsky Consultant Psychiatry
Simone Powell Consultant Policy