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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Correlates of age in a sample of suicide attempters known to an agency Kiani, Aquila


Canada's suicide rate has almost doubled during a quarter of the century, i.e., from 1951-1977. The suicide rate for British Columbia is higher than the national average Canadian age-specific suicide rates are also high among the elderly. In the Vancouver downtown district, suicide rate has reached alarming proportions. S.A.F.E.R., as part of its program for prevention of Suicide Attempts, Follow-up, Education and Research, had an on-going data-collection project from mid 1977 to the end of 1981. During the 4 1/2 years, information on 5,358 cases of attempted suicide was collected by S.A.F.E.R. Workers for clinical and programmatic purposes. The present study has analyzed the data collected and stored in S.A.F.E.R. Tape Files. The main objective of the present study has been to construct recognizably different profiles for S.A.F.E.R. Clients by classifying them into various age-groups. Increased awareness of age as a factor may appear relevant to the planning and on-going evaluation of suicide prevention programs. The assumed relationship of age with the variables of the study was formulated in separate hypotheses. Tests of significance were applied to find the significance of association between the variables as well as to see the strength of association between age and other variables. Statistically significant relationships were found betwee age and most of the variables tested. Tests of association, however, showed consistently weak relationships; most were in the neighbourhood of zero. Since the sample was large enough in most analyses to yield statistically significant findings even when actual differences were small, interpretations of the findings were based primarily on the strength of association rather than on statistical significance. No significant differences were found between the 'young' and the 'old' elderly in patterning of suicide attempts or in the utilization of S.A.F.E.R. services. Highlights of recommendations include: a more restrictive policy on the monitoring and sale of drugs mostly used in suicide attempts, identification of high-risk suicide attempters, including the elderly through vigorous out-reach efforts, use of volunteers, special focus on working with the family of attempters, dispelling negative images and stereotyping against the elderly through education and training programs for professionals and volunteers, integration of suicide prevention education with the school curricula as focus on prevention of high incidence of suicide among the teenagers, evaluation of suicide prevention services, developing a sound data base to achieve reliability in research and recognizing and strengthening the many roles of social workers in suicide prevention.

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