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Suicide and the Elderly – What are we Not seeing?

“Around 7 a.m. Thursday, Dianne discovered her parents bodies in their home. Frank shot Dorothy, before turning the gun on himself.”  This all too familiar story is always shocking and leaves family and friends frantically trying to come up with what they may have missed or what they could have done to prevent such a tragedy.

While we often hear about teens or even corporate executives whose sense of hopelessness and despair drives them to take their own lives, we don’t consider how illness and isolation may put older adults, those over the age of 65, more at risk for suicide. 

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, older Americans are disproportionately likely to die by suicide:

"Of every 100,000 people ages 65 and older, 14.3 died by suicide in 2007. This figure is higher than the national average of 11.3 suicides per 100,000 people in the general population."

Suicide and the ElderlyThe NIMH also indicates that depression is one of the conditions most commonly associated with suicide in older adults and contrary to what people often think, depression is not a normal part of aging.  Depression may be caused by despair over their quality of life, loss of a loved one or a debilitating illness.

Suicide and seniors is a devastating but common occurrence. It’s a delicate topic that can be difficult to address but cannot be ignored. In Preventing Suicide in Senior Communities, Maria Wellisch discusses how to recognize the warning signs of suicide in seniors and how to create an environment that promotes mental health. The video also helps caregivers understand who may be at risk within a senior community and what crisis response measures can be deployed to prevent suicide in seniors. This presentation will help healthcare workers learn what to listen and look for in preventing suicide in the Long Term Care environment.  Watch Now.

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