Elderly Suicide Prevention

No matter the age, suicide and mental health is a serious issue that affects everyone. I’ve heard many people say different things about it, even calling it victimless. The fact is, however, suicide has many victims, even more than one might imagine. One of the issues we have in fighting suicide is that we put a face on the issue and create a stereotype for suicide, but suicide has no single face.

According to the Washington post, “White men 85 and older are more likely to die by suicide than Americans in any other age group.” They also stated that the rate among white 85 and older is four times greater than the rest of the population. In Australia, The Guardian said that 75% of Australians who took their life in 2012 were male and that the highest rate was among males 85 and older.  These statistics are alarming, as we continue to see a rise in suicide attempts. With the population of the elderly growing quickly, these numbers are sadly expected to only increase if we don’t do more to educate and train more people on suicide prevention.

According to the Association for Marriage and Family Therapy, or AAMFT, these are some warning signs to watch out for in geriatric suicide ideation:

  • A loss of interest in their usual activities
  • A decline in self-care and social interaction
  • Stopping specific medical regimens
  • Expecting some personal loss
  • Feeling hopeless
  • Feeling worthless
  • Actions such as giving things away or making drastic changes in their wills
  • Hording medication or attempting to obtain other lethal means
  • Becoming preoccupied with death and concerning themselves less with personal safety.
  • Saying things like, “This is the last time you’ll ever see me” or expressing suicidal intent.

There are many warning signs out there and we should be cautious around our loved ones, ensuring that we are watching their behaviour for these signs to help them.

Stigma is one of the believed causes of why these rates are so high among older men. There is a stigma that is put on seeking help for dealing with anxiety and depression, and this stigma can be increased in older men as they were brought up not to talk about these things or to express their feelings. If you feel like your loved one needs help, don’t be afraid to help them. Just because someone doesn’t ask for help, doesn’t mean they don’t need it or want it.

There are many tools online that you can use to seek help for yourself or your loved ones. There are numerous workshops, tools, and groups, such as Livingworks ASIST and Mental Health First Aid, that can be accessed online in order to help with suicide and crisis prevention, finding assistant, and training along with many other programs for adults and for teens. Don’t wait to seek help for yourself or your loved one. If you need help seek it now, there are people ready out there, just waiting to help.


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