The Effect of Cancer on Suicide among Elderly Holocaust Survivors


Address correspondence to O. Nakash, School of Psychology, Interdisciplinary Center (IDC), P.O. Box 167, Herzliya 46150, Israel; E-mail:


Jewish-Israelis of European origin with cancer have higher suicide rates relative to their counterparts in the general population. We investigated whether this effect results from the high proportion of Holocaust survivors among them, due to vulnerabilities arising from the earlier traumas they sustained. The study was based on all Jewish-European persons with cancer, 60 years and over, diagnosed in Israel between 1999 and 2007. The standardized incidence ratios were not significantly different between the exposed and nonexposed groups (men: 0.90, 95% CI 0.60–1.19; women: 0.95, 95% CI 0.55–1.37). Past exposure to maximum adversity did not increase the suicide risk among persons with cancer.