An Elder Suicide Glossary

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Elder Suicide and Post-Acute Care

© HCMA, Ltd., 1999


ACUTE SUICIDE THREAT - Individual has lethal means and voices intent.
AGE-SPECIFIC - Suicide rate broken down by age groupings.
AGENERATIVE SUICIDE - Caused by personal alienation (Shneidman).
AGITATION - Extreme restlessness common in individuals in suicidal crisis.
ALIENATION - Feeling of being apart from or unattached to others.
AMBIVALENCE - Suicidal individual's wish to both live and die.
ANOMIC SUICIDE - Type caused by a disrupted relationship (Durkheim).
ASSISTED SUICIDE - Completion of suicide with the aid of a physician.
ATTEMPTED SUICIDE - Unsuccessful effort to complete suicide.
BIOMARKER - See Marker.
BLOODLESS MEANS - Toxic substances, drowning, hanging, suffocation.
CHEMICAL DEFICIENCY - Depletion of a neurotransmitter (e.g. serotonin).
COMPLETE SUICIDE - Succumb to the suicide disease process.
CONSTRICTION - Narrowing of individual outlook and options (Shneidman).
CRY FOR HELP - Expression of suicidal intent in the hope of assistance.
CUMULATIVE LOSS - Succession of deprivations/frustrations causing stress or pain.


DEPRESSION - Disorder involving abnormal sadness and hopelessness.
DOUBLE SUICIDE - Completion by a couple or by two friends.
DYADIC SUICIDE - Caused by an interpersonal problem (Shneidman).
EGOISTIC SUICIDE - Type caused by lack of social ties (Durkheim).
EGOTIC SUICIDE - Caused by an intrapersonal problem (Shneidman).
ELDER SUICIDE - Occurrence of suicide among the aged.
FACILITATING SUICIDE - Legal term for helping in a suicide completion.
FRUSTRATION - Inability to meet an important personal need or drive.


GENDER-SPECIFIC - Suicide rate broken down by sex.
GESTURER - Individual associated with one or more suicide gestures.
HIGH RISK FACTOR - Social variable associated with high incidence of suicide.
HIGH RISK GROUP - Population segment with a high suicide rate.
INTENT - Factor in forensic determination of a death as suicide.


LETHALITY - Indicates potential of  means of suicide to cause death.


MAKING FINAL PLANS - Overt actions indicating imminent jeopardy.
MANIPULATED SUICIDE - Completion induced by persuasion (Battin).
MARKER - Physiological indicator or predictor of suicide risk.
MEANS - Firearms, rope, poison, etc., used to complete suicide.
MEANS RESTRICTION - Preventing access to weapons, drugs, etc. (CDC).
MURDER-SUICIDE - Victim commits homicide before completing suicide.
NEUROCHEMICALS - Substances conveying messages in the brain.
NEURON - Brain cell that processes information.
NEUROTRANSMITTER - Neurochemical that attaches to a receptor.
NONLETHAL METHOD - Means that may not be immediately fatal.
NONVIOLENT MEANS - See Bloodless Means.
OBLIGATORY SUICIDE - Ethical concept of suicide as duty (Cosculluela).
ORGANIC SUICIDE - Response to serious physical illness and/or pain (Menninger).
OTHER-DRIVEN SUICIDE - Completion impelled by other person(s) (Fairbairn).


PARASUICIDE - Non-fatal act of self-harm; a suicide gesture.
PARTIAL SUICIDE - Non-fatal self-destructive act, e.g., self-mutilation.
PENACIDE - Killing of pain; completion of suicide to end intense pain.
PERTURBATION - Increased emotional disturbance (Shneidman).
PRODROMAL CLUES - Individual behavioral signs of suicidality
PSYCHACHE - Severe psychological pain (Shneidman).
PSYCHOLOGICAL AUTOPSY - Post-death search for cause of suicide.
RATIONAL SUICIDE - Presumption of reasonable choice by the terminally ill.
RECEPTOR - Target of a neurotransmitter.
REPEATER - Individual with history of suicide attempts.
RESCUE - Successful intervention in a suicide attempt.
RISK FACTOR - Attribute associated with the likelihood of suicide.
ROLE LOSS - Personal identification (e.g., spouse) lost due to death.


SEROTONIN - Neurotransmitter that inhibits self-destructive behavior.
SILENT SUICIDE - Self-starvation and medical noncompliance by the aged.
SITUATIONAL CLUES - Loss, other major life event linked with suicide risk.
SUICIDAL BEHAVIOR - Suicide gestures, attempts, and completions.
SUICIDAL IDEATION - Thoughts about completing suicide.
SUICIDAL THREAT - Statement indicating that suicide is being considered.
SUICIDALITY - Individual's level of danger to her/himself (Shneidman).
SUICIDE - A transient disease caused by psychological stress and pain.
SUICIDE ATTEMPT - Failed attempt to complete suicide.
SUICIDE COMPLETER - Individual who has died of suicide.
SUICIDE GESTURE - An action of self-harm indicating suicidal intent.
SUICIDE INCIDENCE- Number of cases in a given time in a given area.
SUICIDE INTERVENTION - Prevention of an imminent or in process attempt.
SUICIDE PACT - Agreement to complete suicide by two or more individuals.
SUICIDE PLAN - Inclusive of time frame and means to complete suicide.
SUICIDE PREVALENCE - Cases at a given time relative to population size.
SUICIDE RATE - Occurrence of suicide in a given population or community.
SUICIDE WATCH - Inpatient or in-home monitoring of a suicidal individual.
SYNDROMATIC CLUES- Behavioral, verbal, situational indicators of suicide risk.
UNDER-REPORTING - Incidence of suicides not recorded as such.
UNFINISHED BUSINESS - Personal concerns to be resolved before death.


VIOLENT MEANS - Suicide by firearms, hanging, slashing, falls.
WARNING SIGN - Overt indicator of suicidal risk of an individual.

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