Suicide is a growing problem and an issue of grave concern. I have been through it first hand,d and you never think suicide can happen to you or in your family.-However, old age suicide in the elderly population is increasingly becoming a common problem and forcing us to think over and over again about how we can prevent it, according to data from the American Association of Suicidology. White males aged 85 years and above are at the highest risk of suicide. The same association revealed that over 5,404 cases of suicide happen to those aged 65 years and above.
Furthermore, various data sources also state. Older menare more likely to commit suicide than elderly females. The reasoning, young women are more prone to take such extreme steps. Once they have dealt with the various stages and stress, anxiety, and pressure, they seem to handle the stress of old age. But, men get depressed in old age and cannot survive the burden of diseases, loneliness, disability, social isolation, etc.
Why is senior suicide such a problem? – The risk factors
Time and again,n we keep hunting for answers to try and understand those factors which must have compelled our seniors to take such a drastic step. The various risk factors for aging suicide include the following:
Being bedridden or severely disabled
Retired older men who resort to alcohol or heavy drinking
Various studies have pointed out a clear connection between depression and suicide in our elderly. The inability of our older adults to adjust is one of the multiple causes of senior suicide.
This includes several mental disorders.
Brain function disorders
Recent reports and statistics show it can be clearly stated that suicide due to major depressive disorder is on the higher side. According to data published in 2015, the second-highest suicide rates occurred in elderly individuals aged 85 years and above. All these statistics only point towards the fact that depression is treatable,e and we need to help our elderly speak up in their minds to offer help at the right time. However, the reality is that depression is often viewed as a character weakness, then a significant illness, which prevents our elderly from seeking medical assistance.
Warning signs of suicide in the elderly to prevent further incidence of suicide in the elderly, we must understand the warning signs of suicide in the elderly. The following list speaks of the various warning signs of suicide in the elderly:
Loss of interest in multiple activities that one used to enjoy earlier
Self-neglect, in terms of personal grooming and medical care
Not taking an active interest in social interaction
Feeling of hopelessness
Crying for no evident reason
Losing weight due to loss of interest in food
Depressed or sad mood
Giving away personal items
Increased dependence on alcohol or other drugs
Experiencing a significant loss or expecting to encounter one
Talking about death
Noticing any of the signs mentioned above, then you need to follow certain dos and don’ts:
Some of the Do’s
Take your elderly loved one seriously and DO ask whether they are sad or depressed or if some grave issue is bothering them.
Go ahead and DO ask them directly whether they are planning suicide. If you ask them directly, the chances of getting a direct and honest answer are high. However, you might be afraid and apprehensive about asking them such a question directly; but don’t worry, as you’re asking them would certainly not cause your elderly to commit suicide.
Once you know their intentions, talk to them and ask them to seek professional help for depression and other medical issues.
DO ensure that you are there for them and that they still need to value their life.
Lastly, you must take the necessary steps to remove items that may harm your elderly.
Keep a close watch on your elderly (if possible) and spend time with them.
Some of the Don’ts
Don’t act shocked. Being shocked is natural, but don’t let your elderly sense it.
Don’t argue with your elderly that suicide is not advisable,e and please do not give them long lectures on the value of life.
Don’t keep this a secret. Instead, seek help from professional agencies or experts that can help prevent suicide.
If you are not prepared, life does become difficult as you age. The increasing disease burden, a weak body, loss of a partner,r and retirement from work can all make our elderly gloomy and depressed. Adhering to such an extreme step may seem irrational to many, but it does make sense for our elderly, as they can no longer live their lives.
Preventing elderly suicide
According to the Institute of Medicine, suicide prevention should target different levels and stages of suicidality. This works under three different categories, targeting different types of the elderly population:
Universal prevention – This type aims to reduce the risk of suicide in new cases through skill enhancement and information.
Selective prevention focuses on high-risk groups, which usually do not show signs of suicidal intentions. Still, at the same time,e are highly vulnerable to committing suicide. Such high-risk groups include those, who have experienced the loss of a partner or other person, are retired, the elderly,y suffering from chronic illness,s o are highly disabled.
Indicated prevention – This is for that whodemonstrate signs of committing suicide. Candidates for indicated prevention include those elderly suffering from a psychiatric illness or those who have expressed their desire to die.
Recognizing the warning signs is usually the first step to preventing suicide. Here are specific take-home points that can help you prevent suicide in the elderly:
If you have the slightest doubt, your elderly are planning a suicideaempt, and you shouldn’t leave them alone.
Be cautious and look for harmful items, such as sharp knives, drugs, etc.
If you know some older adults experiencing active or passive suicidal thoughts, it is best to contact a medical professional and seek help immediately.
The world we live in is a complex place. It is the place that gives importance to young and adult suicide but almost wholly ignores elderly suicide, even though the suicide rates in the latter population are much higher than the rest. The reason is pretty simple; we glorify the young generatio as we see our future in them. But, in this process, we seem to forget our elderly; we appear to completely overlook the bountiful wisdom, love, and care we have received from them. As caregivers, it is time to love and care for them and provide them the time and support they require to sail through the difficult journey called “life easily.” For more help, contact me.
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