Background Older adults have high rates of suicide in most countries, but the figures are not as noticeable because they are still a minority population in developing countries. For this reason, many investigations have focused on studying suicide in other age groups.
Aim To characterize in a socio-demographical way suicide in adults over 60 in Colombia.
Methods A descriptive study that collected information on the totality of cases of suicide reported in adults over 60 years of age in Colombia between 2009 and 2013 (1167 cases). Frequency measures were calculated for variables of the person (age, sex, place of residence, occupation, health insurance, medical history, etc.), variables of the event (scenario, day, time, mechanism and motivation, etc.) and socioeconomic variables by regions.
Results The number of reported deaths by suicide was 1167, of which 88% were men. Likewise, men had higher rates than women (ASMR men=9,62/100,000, ASMR women=1,15/100,000). The main motivation for men to commit suicide was physical illness and disability (57,4%), while for women it was mental health (65,6%). There were higher rates of suicide at a lower educational level in men, and higher rates of suicide in some rural areas than urban for both sexes. Men prefer firearms to carry out the deed (48,28%), while women prefer hanging (45,45%). Low levels of pension access and poor working conditions were identified.
Conclusion Suicide in elderly is a predominantly male phenomenon. There are differences in motivation and mechanisms between men and women, as well as important inequalities in the socioeconomic conditions that work as triggers. It is important to take into account all these aspects in order to carry out differentiated prevention according to gender and place of residence, not only by age group.