The aim of this study was to assess any predictive factors for repeated attempted suicide and completed suicide in a 1-year follow-up on a sample of elderly European suicide attempters (60 years and over). From 1990 to 1993, 63 subjects completed the first interview and were recontacted after 1 year. At follow-up, eight subjects (12.7%) had taken their lives and seven (11.1%) had repeated at least one suicide attempt. On comparison of repeaters and non-repeaters, differences emerged in terms of death of the father in childhood and for mean Suicidal Intent Score. At the end of follow-up period, repeaters reported a more frequent desire to repeat suicidal behaviour and judged their mental health and social assistance received to be worse. Suicides and non-repeaters differed especially in relation to death of father during childhood and number of contacts with General Practitioner. Interpretation of the results must take into account the smallness of the test sample, the difficulties in obtaining complete data for the follow-up interview, the lack of a control group and a diagnosis formulated in a hospital consultation setting. The study confirms, however, the high risk of repetition of suicidal behaviour in the elderly. In old age suicidal ideation is often sustained over long periods of time and requests for help are addressed to relatives and GPs. An interesting finding is the more frequent death of the father during childhood among repeaters. © 2002 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.