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June 1964

Suicide and Psychiatric Care In the Aging

Author Affiliations

Assistant Professor (Dr. Gardner), Department of Psychiatry, University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry; Chief (Dr. Bahn), Outpatient Studies Section, Biometrics Branch, National Institute of Mental Health, Bethesda, Md, and Lecturer, Department of Epidemiology, Johns Hopkins University School of Hygiene and Public Health, Baltimore; Social Science Consultant (Dr. Mack), National Institute of Mental Health, Public Health Service, Region V, Chicago.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1964;10(6):547-553. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1964.01720240001001

A cumulative psychiatric case register to which all psychiatric experience for residents of a geographic area is routinely reported can facilitate unique investigation into the epidemiology of suicide. For example, the register provides an accurate mechanism for learning which of the persons who suicide had psychiatric contact. It is, thus, a method for obtaining data recorded prior to the event.

The case records may provide further insight into the natural history of mental disorders leading to suicide and, thus, enhance predictability of potential suicide. Suicides who had previous psychiatric contact can be compared to those without such contact to determine features unique to each group.

Persons who attempt suicide also can be followed prospectively through the register to study their subsequent psychiatric care and changing risk of suicide with the passage of time. In addition, the entire psychiatric register population can be followed indefinitely

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