Facts on Suicide in the Elderly

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Depression in the elderly is often misinterpreted by both family members and family doctors. It is most often thought of as a natural process - ‘a person slows down with advanced age’.  But depression is a serious illness in a demographic that already suffers from age related biological changes and other medical conditions. Here are some facts we all need to know to understand the scope of the issue.

  • 75% of seniors who commit suicide see their family doctor in the month prior to the suicide.
  • 65 million seniors age 65 and over suffer from depression.
  • 1 out of 10 seniors seeks and received treatment.
  • 20 percent of the nation's suicides occur in the elderly population.
  • 12% per cent of people in the U.S. are over 65.
  • 16% of all suicides are committed by those 65.
  • 12.4% of deaths in the age group 25 through 34 are the result of suicide.
  • 25% of deaths in the age group 65 plus are as the result of suicide.
  • 7 times more likely is the ratio between male vs. female suicides.

The American Foundation for Suicide conducted a study that found bipolar disorder, depression and severe pain presented the greatest chance of suicide attempts and deaths in the elderly. It is also a time of life when other medical conditions come into play such as chronic lung disease and congestive heart failure. Experts have found that most of the patients in the study had seen their primary care physician within the month prior to the suicide.

Not only do physicians need to look for signs of depression so too do caregivers and family members. Suicide is preventable. We can all help prevent senior and elderly suicide.
According to the American Foundation for Suicide: ‘There are also substantial economic costs associated with lives lost to suicide. These costs arise from the loss of economic potential due to lives lost to suicide, from the often devastating effects of symptoms of bereavement by suicide, from the medical and mental health costs associated with suicide attempts, and from the burden of family care for those who have made suicide attempts. Internationally, the annual economic cost of suicidal behavior is estimated to be in the billions of dollars.’



The journalistic views are our own.  Any information you read here should not be construed as advice.  Consult your own chosen professionals for advice and services that are best for you.


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