Objective: The aim of this study was to investigate choice of suicide method in individuals aged 65 years and over.
Methods: Data were obtained from the Queensland Suicide Register, Australia. Univariate and multi-variate logistic regression analyses were conducted.
Results: The predominant methods in older adults were hanging (21.5%), firearms and explosives (20.9%), drug poisoning (18.5%), followed by other poisoning (mainly MVCO) (12.6%), suffocation by plastic bag (8.5%), and drowning (6%). Some methods (e.g. firearms and explosives, drug poisoning, suffocation) appeared characterised by profiles (e.g., socio-demographic and clinical aspects), meanwhile others were not well distinguishable. Compared to other methods, those who died by firearms and explosives were significantly more likely to be males, Australian born, live in rural and remote areas, and less likely to have a mental illness, previous suicide attempt(s) or leave a suicide note. Those who died by drug poisoning were more likely to be females, leave a suicide note, experience interpersonal conflict and live in urban areas. Similarly, those who chose suffocation by plastic bag were more likely to be older females, leave a suicide note, and pay attention to suicide in the media, but less likely to experience interpersonal conflict.
Conclusion: Acceptability, availability and lethality are important factors impacting choice of means and should be considered when designing suicide prevention activities in older adults.