Preventing Suicide in the Elderly

Suicide in the elderly is rising

September 7-13 is National Suicide Awareness Week and with suicide among seniors increasing consistently, it’s important to address the problem of suicide in the elderly. Suicide in the elderly make up over 18% of total suicides.

Signs that Suicide May Be In Someone’s Thoughts

While not every person will show signs that can cause a red flag, most have at least a few signs to alert you that they are not themselves and could be thinking about suicide.

  • Stockpiling Medications – many seniors have a vast amount of medications and may inquire as to what the prescription is for. If you notice that they have been stockpiling medications or one medication in particular, ask them why they have so many & determine how many are actually required.
  • Lack of Attention to Hygiene & Safety – not caring about personal hygiene can be a big sign that something’s not right; ignoring their own safety issues it could be a way for them to say they just don’t care.
  • Loss of a Long-Time Spouse – often seniors will lose their spouses after being together for a long time. Losing any close member of their family can put them into a very deep depression and is one of the top causes of suicide in the elderly.
  • Reducing Social Interactions – Becoming more of a recluse and limiting social interactions is an early sign of increased risk for suicide in the elderly. Withdrawing from society and activities that used to be a vital part of their life is a definitely something to notice.
  • Talking About “the end” – Beware if the senior you love starts saying things like “There’s no point in making appointments for me anymore,” or “I probably won’t be around for that,” you should take notice. Talking about the end and making comments that they aren’t going to be around could be their way of suggesting a possible suicide in the elderly person you love.

4 Tips to Help Prevent Suicide in the Elderly

If someone you know and love is depressed, feeling down, or showing signs of contemplating suicide you can help.

  1. Get Them Involved – Find a local senior center or activities that involve other seniors in order to get them out of their homes & socializing.
  2. In-Home Caregiving – Hiring a professional in-home caregiver or companion will allow them to socialize with someone. You can request that a variety of caregivers come to the home in order to have them intrigued and looking forward to each new day.
  3. Consider Therapy – While it may be hard to get them involved at first you may be able to work with their PCP, friends and family to have them talk with a counselor or clergyman.
  4. Having a Purpose – Aging can make seniors feel as though they serve no real purpose; finding purpose in life and looking forward to each new day can help. Crafts, bingo, church, volunteering & other social functions can help.

Caring Connections can offer many services that may help you deter suicide in the elderly person you love and care about.