Strong religious faith and social support of older African Americans may help lower their suicide rates compared with whites, said researchers in the July 1 issue of the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry.
Joan M. Cook, PhD, a geriatric psychologist at the Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Philadelphia, found that African Americans with strong religious and social ties were least likely to have suicidal thoughts.
Older American men are particularly at risk for suicide. In 1998, white men aged 65 years or older committed suicide at a rate of 33.1 per 100 000 vs a rate of 11.7 for black men in the same age group. The rate for older white women was 4.85. So few black women committed suicide—fewer than 20 in 1998—that a reliable rate cannot be figured.
Mitka M. Faith and Social Ties Protective. JAMA. 2002;288(4):441. doi:10.1001/jama.288.4.441-JQU20007-2-1