In light of so many recent suicides.

Thank you Beverly Rice for this wonderful information.

Depression is not a normal part of aging…
Did you know that in the US the rate of suicide for persons 65 and older has increased dramatically over the last 20 years. While adults over the age of 65 account for about 13% of the US population, they account for 20% of all suicide deaths. Older men die by suicide at a rate more than seven times higher than older women.
Suicide attempts among this population are more likely to be fatal due to several factors. Older people tend to be frailer, more isolated, and so, less likely to be rescued; more likely to have a plan and be more determined than younger adults. Firearms are the most common means (67%), followed by poisoning (14%) and suffocation (12%).
Most important risk factors include these among others:

Chronic pain, life threatening illness, cognitive decline
Loss of spouse, loved one or pet (grief)
Physical, social, emotional isolation
Inability to live alone, loss of mobility
Depression/feelings of hopelessness
Alcohol abuse/dependence
Financial difficulty

Family members and professionals need to be alert to any changes in behavior of the older adult. Many family members see depression as a normal part of aging. Sleep problems, either sleeping too much or too little, eating problems, or other signs of depression should be taken seriously. Older adults should be encouraged to discuss problems with their medical provider and/or mental health professional.
The Center for Elderly Suicide Prevention and Grief Related Services through the Institute on Aging operates the only accredited crisis line in the country for people aged 60 years and older and adults living with disabilities. 24-hour toll-free The Friendship Line provides;

Active suicide prevention
Emotional support
Elder abuse prevention and counseling
Well-being checks
Grief support
Information and referrals
They also make on-going outreach calls to lonely older adults.

If you or someone you know are in danger of harming yourself get help immediately by calling 911, going to the nearest emergency room, or calling a family member or friend to help.
Or call

The 24-hour National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255) or 1-800-799-4TTY (1-800-799-4889)
The 24hr. Friendship Line: 1-800-971-0016

OLDER AMERICANS BEHAVIORAL HEALTH: Issue brief 4: Preventing Suicide in Older Adults
www.samhsa.gov
OLDER AMERICANS BEHAVIORAL HEALTH: Issue brief 4: Preventing Suicide in Older Adults
www.samhsa.gov
INSTITUTE OF AGING: https://www.ioaging.org/services/all-inclusive-health-care/friendship-line

Beverly Rice, MSW, LCSW

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