Suicide Amongst the Aged

Suicide takes plenty of lives on a yearly basis, but did you know that it is becoming such a problem that it has made the top ten list of leading causes of death in the United States. According to census data from 2010, 38,364 individuals committed suicide, which meant that every 13.7 minutes someone died by suicide. The most alarming part is how often it affects people 65 years of age and older. According to the American Association of Suicidology, there was one elderly suicide every 97 minutes. There were about 14.9 elderly suicides each day, resulting in 5,421 suicides in among those 65 and older. Suicide rates for males are highest among those aged 75 and older (rate 36 per 100,000) ¹.  The most shocking part is that the completion rate is highest amongst seniors more than all other groups, making them most successful at killing themselves. This is a very sad truth as this affects family members and communities as well as the individual. The biggest problem is because suicide can be caused by many different factors and signs of intent to commit suicide are not easily detectable, particularly amongst males who tend to hide their feelings. And while we all face many issues we usually have friends and family that can assist and help us during these times, but for seniors they might lack that support system that is essential to avoid a possible suicide attempt. So, we must pay special attention to our elderly loved ones around us to make sure that they do not get absorbed into this trap.

Some of the warning signs:

  • Loss of interest in things or activities that are usually found enjoyable
  • Cutting back social interaction, self-care, and grooming
  • Breaking medical regimens (prescriptions, diets, doctor visits)
  • Feelings of depression and worthlessness
  • Putting their affairs in order and giving things away
  • Gathering items that are for lethal means (guns, rope, medication etc…)
  • Expression(s) of suicidal intent

Some of the risk factors:

  • Physical illness and prolonged pain
  • Social Isolation & Loneliness
  • Major changes in social roles (retirement)
  • Experiencing or expecting a significant personal loss (spouse or other) – sometimes leads to multiple suicides as the remaining person might not want to be left alone
  • Financial problems

Some of the numbers²

Suicide

The simple truth is that as people age more issues come into play that greatly affect one’s mental health. Imagine someone that has retired and has lost most of their social environment and now is left alone due to death or divorce and their grown children have left and moved on as well. Then add in depression to their mental health due to a chronic health condition that has affected them and made them more handicapped. Feeling isolated and with a chronic condition that might be causing someone pain or difficulty with activities of daily living adds a great deal of strain to one’s mental capacity to think clearly and maintain a feeling of hope. Having someone there to assist the individual, communicate and interact with them can be the difference between an elderly loved one and a deceased loved one that has now affected your life. If you or someone you know is living alone, having difficulty with activities of daily living or is going through some form of hardship; getting them a certified home health aide can be that difference. At Exclusive Care, we care for many patients and can be there for you and your family if they have been suffering from loneliness or even  a chronic medical condition and can no longer care for themselves or others. Our highly trained certified home health aides and personal care aides can be there to help them lead the most enriching life possible. You can count on Exclusive Care to be available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, for any and all Live in Care, Personal Care, Home Health and Companionship needs. For your convenience, we may even schedule a nurse to visit you or your loved one’s at home and evaluate the level of care that is needed. This will help clarify some questions you or your loved one may have. Exclusive Care is a licensed home care service agency that provides top quality aides to all our clients. If you would like to have more information, please feel free to contact us by phone at 718-364-4032 or on our website at www.exclusive-care.com

¹. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System (WISQARS) [online]. (2010). [cited 2012 Oct 19] Available from www.cdc.gov/injury/wisqars/index. html.

². National Center for Injury Prevention and Control (1995) Suicide in the United States 1980-1992 Violence Surveillance Summary Series, No.1 http://weber.ucsd.edu/~dphillip/suicide_in_the_united_states_cdc_report.pdf

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