Senior and Elderly Suicide.
Suicide is a growing problem in America where people age 65 and
older account for about 13 percent of the population but almost a
fifth of all suicides.
Elderly white men are the most at-risk for suicide among senior
citizens, with 33 of every 100,000 of them committing suicide
every year. Caucasian men who are more than 80 years old are six
times more likely than any other demographic group to commit
Baby boomers are more prone to senior suicide than any other
generation in recent history. And, they are strikingly successful
in their attempts, with four elderly people attempting suicide for
each individual who succeeds. In contrast, young adultsí rate of
suicide success is about 200 attempts per completed suicide.
Senior or elderly suicide is typically more lethal or successful
because many senior citizens are isolated and donít have people
nearby to revive them when they attempt suicide.
Seniors are particularly at risk for elderly suicide not just
because they donít have social support; but also because of memory
or other brain problems and poor sleep patterns.
Primary care physicians are the ones most likely to first
recognize when a senior is at risk for committing senior suicide
because they deal with elderly patients who often give clues.
Experts often urge physicians to ask questions such as "What
thoughts have you had about suicide?" to prevent senior suicide.
If the patient indicates he may be at risk for senior or elderly
suicide, then consult a psychiatrist or mental health specialist
Statistics on senior suicide and elderly suicide are sobering. One
quarter of all suicides are committed by the elderly.
Approximately every 83 minutes, one senior adult, 65 years of age
or older, commits elderly suicide in the United States. Moreover,
elderly suicides are very violent deaths with 8 of 10 men who are
65 years of age or older taking a firearm to kill themselves.
It is not surprising that depression occurs in about 15 percent of
those 65 years of age or older. Depression affects about 6 million
elderly people. Sadly, only about 10 percent of the elderly
population experiencing depression seeks professional help. Since
depression in nursing home residents can reach as high as 25
percent, itís not uncommon to see senior and elderly suicide occur
in a nursing home.
Senior and elderly suicide is not just a problem in the United
States. Elderly people kill themselves at a higher rate than any
other segment of the population in many countries, according to
One of the reasons senior suicide and elderly suicide are often
missed is because of the stereotype that itís normal to feel
depressed about growing older.
The strongest risk factor for suicide is depression and the vast
majority of people who attempt suicide are depressed.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, seniors
should seek help if they are showing signs of senior suicide or
elderly suicide such as the following;
Having persistent headaches, stomachaches or chronic pain.
Feeling nervous, empty, worthless, tired, restless or irritable.
Not enjoying things like they used to, or feeling no one loves
them or that life isn't worth living.
Eating or sleeping more or less than normal.
According to The Archives of Internal Medicine, one of the JAMA/Archives
journals, suicide is the 11th leading cause of death in the United
States. Suicide is very common among older people.
The study found bipolar disorder, depression and severe pain was
associated with the greatest increases in suicide risk. At the
same time, several other chronic illnesses including chronic lung
disease seizure disorder and congestive heart failure were also
associated with an increased elderly suicide and senior suicide
Finally, experts suggest treatment for multiple illnesses is
strongly related to an increased elderly and senior suicide risk.
Most of the patients in the study who committed suicide visited a
physician in the month before they died. Indeed, about half of
them visited a physician during the preceding week, which should
hit home the message that physicians need to look for signs of
depression to prevent senior and elderly suicide.
If you suffer from depression and have strong suicide urges,
please seek the help of a professional therapist as soon as
possible. You can find mental health professionals who specialize
in suicide prevention by looking in your local Yellow Pages under
Mental Health and/or Suicide Prevention. Local crisis lines may
also be available. If not, call (800)-SUICIDE.
If in the midst of an acute suicide attack, check yourself into
the emergency room or tell someone who can help you find help
immediately. This is not the time to try to handle the situation
alone. After getting past the immediate risk of suicide, it is
crucial to find effective help for depression.
Related Articles on Suicide:
Depression and Suicide
If You Want to Commit
Warning Signs II
Antidepressants and Suicide
Teen Suicide Statistics