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June 15, 1964


JAMA. 1964;188(11):996. doi:10.1001/jama.1964.03060370052011

Suicide is as enigmatic today as it was in 1897 when Émile Durkheim published his classic study on the phenomenon.1 Sociological and epidemiological investigations have provided some measure of predictability for differing populations; however, there is no evidence that this has led to a reduction in the incidence of suicide within any community or region. In this country, approximately 20,000 persons commit suicide annually and, despite obvious under-reporting, it ranks 11th as a cause of death. In large measure, it is a phenomenon of old age, particularly of older males.

Using a cumulative psychiatric case register, Gardner et al2 studied the incidence of suicide in various groups, with primary focus on older males. Their findings are presented in the June issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry. Since January, 1960, almost all of the psychiatric service provided to the residents of Monroe County, NY, has been reported to

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