Suicide and the Elderly
Suicide rates increase with age and are very high among those 65 years and older. Most elderly suicide victims are seen by their primary care provider a few weeks prior to their suicide attempt and diagnosed with their first episode of mild to moderate depression (DHHS 1999). Older adults who are suicidal are also more likely to be suffering from physical illnesses and be divorced or widowed (DHHS 1999; Carney et al. 1994; Dorpat et al. 1968).
- In 2001, 5,393 Americans over age 65 committed suicide. Of those, 85% (n=4,589) were men and 15% (n=804) were women (CDC 2004).
- Firearms were used in 73% of suicides committed by adults over the age of 65 in 2001 (CDC 2004).
From the Administration of Aging: www.aoa.gov
Before you say — “I’m fine” — ask yourself if you feel:
- nervous or “empty”
- guilty or worthless
- very tired and slowed down
- you don’t enjoy things the way you used to
- restless and irritable
- like no one loves you
- like life is not worth living
Or if you are:
- sleeping more or less than usual
- eating more or less than usual
- having persistent headaches, stomach aches, or chronic pain
These may be smyptoms of Depression, a treatable medical illness.
But your doctor can only treat you if you say how you are really feeling.
Depression is not a normal part of aging.
Talk to your doctor.
For More Information
from the National Institutes of Mental Health website: http://www.nimh.nih.gov/publicat/elderlydepsuicide.cfm