Suicide is a very serious problem among older adults. Although people age 65 and older made up only 13.7 percent of the population in 2012, they accounted for 16.3 percent of the suicides. The most …
Suicide is a very serious problem among older adults. Although people age 65 and older made up only 13.7 percent of the population in 2012, they accounted for 16.3 percent of the suicides. The most common cause for suicide in this age group and (and in general) is untreated depression. About one-third of those older than 65 experience depression, yet 75 percent of these are not being treated.
Some people erroneously believe that depression is a normal part of getting older, but this is completely untrue. Depression is typically the result of a chemical imbalance in the brain which has nothing to do with age. Additionally, some physical conditions and some medications may cause symptoms of depression.
Many older people will hide their depression because they do not want to be seen as weak, crazy, or suffering from dementia. Therefore, it is critical to watch closely for any hints of depression or suicide warning signs.
Specific warning signs in the elderly include:
- Cutting back or losing interest in social interaction
- Breaking medical regimes, such as stopping diets or prescriptions
- Feeling hopeless or worthless
- Putting affairs in order, giving away things
- Stockpiling medication
Although older adults attempt suicide less often than other ages, they have a higher completion rate. They are less likely to seek help specifically for their psychological problems, even though 75 percent of elderly suicide victims see their doctor within a week before their death.
Take any hints or warning signs seriously. The best way to find out if someone is thinking about suicide is to ask. Contrary to popular belief, asking someone about suicide will not give them the idea; in fact, it could show them that someone really cares.
Giving people the opportunity to talk about their feelings decreases risk.
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-TALK) links callers across the country to trained counselors who can provide them with support and other resources, 24 hours a day. If you or someone you know show signs of depression or suicidal intent, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline immediately.
For more information on suicide among older adults or in general, go to the Tennessee Suicide Prevention Network website www.tspn.org.
TTY line: 1-800-799-4TTY (4889).
For nonemergency information on suicide prevention, contact the Tennessee Suicide Prevention Network at 615-297-1077 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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