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Suicide prevention in old age in China 2002-2017: The linkage to the Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing (MIPAA)

Journal article
Authors Jing Wu
Xianyun Li
Shengming Yan
Published in The International Journal of Ageing in Developing Countries
Volume 3
Issue 1
Pages 60-68
Publication year 2018
Published at Department of Sociology and Work Science
Pages 60-68
Language en
Keywords suicide, suicide prevention, mental health, old age, China, MIPAA
Subject categories Public Health, Global Health, Social Medicine and Epidemiology, Older people and ageing, Sociology


China has become an ageing country. In view of this, when developing and implementing ageing policies in China, the high rate of suicide among older people is an urgent issue that can no longer be ignored. A notable feature of suicide among older people is the rural-urban differences. Suicide in old age is linked to a number of risk factors, such as the increasing proportion of older people in the population; social isolation, inter alia in rural areas; a lack of social support; intergenerational family conflicts; and physical and mental illnesses, amongst others. Suicide in China, like most of the developing countries, has social and cultural characteristics beyond psychiatric mechanisms. Therefore, the issues associated with rapid socioeconomic changes and population ageing need to be taken into account when developing specific suicide prevention programmes and strategies targeted at older people. The Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing (MIPAA) 2002 has put forward the guidelines for action on ageing at macro, meso and micro levels, i.e. improving the living conditions of older people, strengthening intergenerational family solidarity, and meeting the physical and mental health needs of older people. In line with the objectives of the MIPAA, suicide prevention programmes in old age from social and cultural perspectives, to some extent, have been developed and implemented as follows: 1) welfare support at country level, i.e. improving the physical and mental healthcare and pension systems; 2) caring support at community level, i.e. strengthening neighbourhood networks and mutual help groups; and 3) emotional support at family level, i.e. advocating emotional closeness and intimacy among the generations within families. In order to promote older people’s wellbeing, and in turn decrease suicide risk at the individual level, suicide prevention work for older people in the future should take into consideration the incorporation of the framework of active ageing and its relevant concepts.

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