Seniors and Suicide: The Difficult Truth

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Did you know the older someone is the greater their risk of suicide? Research consistently shows, Seniors have the highest rate of suicide of any group and men in this age group are at the greatest risk.[1]

Furthermore, this age group does not talk about suicide beforehand.

“Older adult suicide is not an impulsive act,” states Iris Chi, Davis School of Gerontology at the University of Southern California Los Angeles, “Elderly suicide is contemplated for a long period of time.”

Because there are less warning signs, more deliberation, and a greater use of firearms; elderly suicide attempts produce an unfortunate number of fatalistic results.

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Studies agree, suicide normally results from a combination of factors rather than a single cause. [2]

Therefore, understanding the risk factors of elderly suicide is critical. What are the risk factors?

Risk factors to watch for:

· Mental Disorders (including but not limited to depression)

· Substance Abuse Issues

· Social Isolation

· Poverty

· Stressful Life Events

· Physical Illness (Disability, Pain, Progressive Ailments)

· Fear of not being able to maintain an independent lifestyle

· Loss of a loved one (Spouse, Child, or Beloved Pet)

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Studies suggest a key protective factor in preventing senior suicide is as simple as BEING CONNECTED. Whether this connection is from close friends, family members, community activities, or within a faith community isn’t what matters. The feeling of belonging, not being alone, and having others care about you in a positive environment makes a world of difference in the life of Seniors.

Other ways to help prevent Senior Suicide are:

· Regular check-ups on physical and mental health

o Don’t neglect mental health. Taking care of mental health is just as important as physical health.

· Discuss your own fears and how you deal with them

o Knowing they aren’t the only one who has fears can get a Senior to open up about their concerns. Help them determine a plan to deal with their fears and concerns.

· Consistently remind them what is good in life

· Remove firearms

o If there is a grave concern for your loved one…REMOVE the firearm, even if they get angry with you. Remove the firearm.

· The Friendship Line (800-971-0016)

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According to the Institute on Aging’s website:

“The Insitute On Aging’s Friendship Line’s 24-Hour hotline, is the only accredited crisis line in the country for people aged 60 years and older and adults living with disabilities. We also make on-going outreach calls to lonely older adults. While there are other organizations that respond to the needs of people who may be contemplating suicide, none provides the type of services that IOA’s Friendship Line offers to respond to the public health problem of suicide among the elderly. Knowing that older people do not contact traditional suicide prevention centers on a regular basis even if they are considering suicide, we created the only program nationwide that reaches out to lonely, depressed, isolated, frail and/or suicidal older adults. Our trained volunteers specialize in offering a caring ear and having a friendly conversation with depressed older adults.”

To learn more about the Friendship Line visit:

As healthcare professionals, we can be an integral link in helping prevent Senior Suicide. Know the signs and report them immediately to the approriate parties.


Reference: Elder Suicide: A Needless Tragedy

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Accessed on: August 25, 2018

Reference: Promoting Emotional Health and Preventing Suicide: A Toolkit for Senior Centers

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Accessed on: August 25, 2018

Reference: Seniors’ Suicide Prevention

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Accessed on: August 25, 2018

Reference: Suicide Rates in the Elderly

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Accessed on: August 25, 2018

Reference Photo One: Elderly Man Photo

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Accessed on August 25, 2018

Reference Photo Two: Senior Commit Suicide Infographic

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Accessed on August 25, 2018

Reference Photo Four: Friendship Line Infographic

Created by: Cardinal Institute for Health Careers

Accessed on August 25, 2018

Reference Photo Three: Take Care of the Caregiver

Created by: Cardinal Institute for Health Careers

Accessed on August 25, 2018

Disclaimer: All information, content, and material of the Cardinal Institute for Health Career’s blog is for informational purposes only and are not intended to serve as a substitute for the consultation, diagnosis, and/or medical treatment of a qualified physician or healthcare provider.



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