Mood disorder is the individual diagnosis with the greatest impetus on suicide. Among completed suicides 29% to 88% (mean 52%) could be considered to have suffered from such a disorder , and there is an increased risk in severe depression as compared to major depression in general [2, 3]. A suicide attempt is known to be one of the main predictors for suicide in depression [4–7].
Suicide attempts have consistently been found to be more common in younger age groups [8–13]. In general, repeated suicide attempts have been shown to be more common among young people [10, 14] or in middle age [15, 16]. By contrast, older people appear to make more severe suicide attempts [16–20]. Consistent with these findings, several studies have shown that increasing age at the time of the suicide attempt is a risk factor for accomplished suicide [21–30] By contrast, some investigators have found an increased risk for suicide in younger age groups by intoxication  or suicide in general [23, 28]. A gender difference in suicide risk after attempt related to age has often been observed, but findings have been inconsistent. The risk has been shown to be increased in older age groups for women but not men [22, 25, 27] or men only [24, 26, 28]. By contrast, some investigators have found an increased risk for suicide after a suicide attempt with age for both men and women [23, 29, 30]. An increased risk for suicide for young suicide attempters has also been found, for men , women , or from intoxication for both sexes . Finally, a recent study has shown that the overall gender ratios for deliberate self-harm conceal important changes in ratios across the life cycle .
To summarise, incidences of suicide attempt are known to be reduced in older age groups, and in particular the rate of repeated attempts is reduced. By contrast, the relative rate of severe suicide attempts has been shown to be greater in older age groups. Consistently, most studies found an increased suicide risk after attempts in older age.
However, to our knowledge, there has been no investigation into the predictive value of age at repeated and severe suicide attempt for accomplished suicide by gender.
The Department of Psychiatry in Lund, Sweden, has multiaxial ratings on all patients treated as inpatients during the time period from 1956 to 1969. There were 100 suicide victims with a primary severe depression at index admission. A blind record evaluation on suicide victims and matched controls has been performed, including non-fatal suicidal acts.
The aim of the present study was to compare the incidences of suicide attempt during the entire lifespan by age group in suicide victims and controls, with gender taken into consideration. The following questions were addressed: was there any reduction of incidence for initial, repeated, or severe suicide attempts with age in suicide victims or controls by gender, and was there any significant difference between suicide victims and controls by gender?