For most people, psychological well-being increases later in life, where people report less satisfaction in midlife and more at either end of the age spectrum. Paradoxically, though, suicide rates rise sharply as age progresses. Ongoing thoughts of depression and hopelessness should not be considered a normal part of aging.
Unfortunately older adults do not normally seek treatment for mental health problems, contributing to suicide risk. As the baby boomers are joining the ranks of older Americans, the elderly are the fastest growing segment of the population, and hence, the issue of later life suicide is a major public health priority.
Risk factors are consistent across the lifespan, with some of the more commonly associated being:
Warning signs look different in everyone. In the older Americans, you may see:
If you or someone you know is exhibiting these risk factors, it is important to know there is hope and help available. Once you have recognized the signs, you need to respond to the risk in asking about suicide. If you are thinking it, they may be as well. Once you are aware that there is a risk for suicide, there are many opportunities for you to react in seeking help.
Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a 24-hour, toll-free suicide prevention service available to anyone in suicidal crisis. If you need help, please dial 1-800-273-TALK (8255). You will be routed to the closest possible crisis center in your area.
The National Council on aging is the nation’s leading nonprofit service and advocacy organization representing older adults and the community organizations that serve them. Their goal is to improve the health and economic security of 10 million older adults by 2020. For more than 60 years, NCOA has been a trusted voice and innovative problem-solver helping seniors navigate the challenges of aging in America.
American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) is anonprofit, non[artisan organization, with a membership of more than 37 million, that help people turn their goals and dreams into real possibilities, strengthens communities and fights for the issues that matter most to families such as healthcare, employment security and retirement planning.
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