Seniors Suicide Risk Factors & Prevention Strategies

February is psychology month, and a good time to raise awareness of this critical mental health issue facing seniors and the aging baby boomer population.The Seniors Suicide Prevention Resource Toolkit shares some facts and tips around preventing suicide in older adults.

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It is an alarming fact that few people talk about: Baby boomers have had higher suicide rates than previous generations, and people age 65 and over have the highest rate of suicide compared to any other age group.

Senior citizens are also more likely to be successful with their suicide attempts. Seniors will typically display less warning signs and are deliberate and determined in their attempts. Consider this statistic: in youth, there is an average of 200+ attempts for every suicide; in the general  population there is an average of 100+ attempts for every suicide; yet in people age 65 and over there is an average of only 2-4 attempts for every suicide.

Suicide Risk Factors For Seniors

There are two primary factors put senior citizens at risk for suicide:

1. Social Isolation: Senior citizens often become socially isolated as they watch their social group succumb to the effects of old age. Many seniors live alone. Not only does this isolation detract from their qualify of life, but it also makes it more difficult for them to find help.

2. Physical Pain: As the body ages it develops more health problems which can bring a great deal of discomfort. Seniors are more likely to experience chronic and severe pain. Suicide becomes a way of ending that pain.

Suicide Prevention Strategies for Seniors

The good news is, there are protective practices that anyone can implement into their life. Not only will these practices reduce the risk of suicide, but they will bring improvements to all aspects of your life:

Practice good health as best as you can. Do whatever you can to take care of yourself physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.

Cultivate a strong social network and list of contacts you can call on in a crisis. This might include health professionals and people who trained to help in situations like these.

Reach out to family and friends for emotional support. Try to realize that you aren’t a burden. Your loved ones care for you not because they have to, but because they want to.

Cultivate interests. Get in touch with what interests you and consider exploring new interests. You may meet new people and discover a love for something you never knew you could love. Having active interests makes life more enjoyable and gives you something to look forward to.

Redefine your purpose in life. When the things that give us purpose are taken away, it can be hard to know what value we hold. Now is the time to discover all the things about yourself and your life that you never noticed before.

*This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended as medical or mental health advice, nor is it a substitute for professional medical or mental health advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of a qualified physician or mental health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical or mental health condition. This website does not recommend or endorse any specific products, services, people, opinions, or other information that may be mentioned on the Site or on other websites it links to. Reliance on any information provided by this website or other websites it links to, is solely at your own risk.*

Mental Health & Suicide Prevention Resources:

American Foundation for Suicide Prevention

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

The Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention

Canadian Mental Health Association

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Fighting the Social Isolation of Seniors

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Anita Hamilton

50+ World editor & baby boomer writer Anita Hamilton has always been interested in the "real people" stories behind the characters that create and inhabit the world of music, books, movies, television shows, current events, history, etc. A lifelong love of research (ok, nosiness) and writing, combined with a loving and supportive family complete with 3 mini-dachshund minions, keeps her busy.

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