Facts about suicide in older adults

  • Typically, suicide attempts by older adults are much more likely to result in death. 
  • Suicide rates among older adults are highest for those who are divorced or widowed.
  • Depression is one of the leading causes of suicide among older adults. Depression is not a normal part of growing older.
  • Firearms, overdose and suffocation are the three most common methods of suicide used by persons aged 65 years and older.

Risk factors

Identified factors that may increase the risks for suicide include:

  • Recent loss of a spouse or loved one
  • Physical illness
  • Chronic pain
  • Prolonged illness
  • Poor health
  • Social isolation and loneliness
  • Significant changes in social roles, such as retirement
  • Loss of independence
  • Financial difficulties

What to watch for

  • Talking about suicide
  • Looking for ways to harm oneself
  • Preoccupation with death or dying
  • Hopelessness
  • Reckless and risky behavior
  • Feeling trapped
  • Increased alcohol or drug use
  • Withdrawing from friends and family
  • Anxiety
  • Changes in sleep patterns
  • Dramatic mood changes
  • Feeling a lack of purpose in life
  • No reason for living

When to act

If someone tells you they are thinking about suicide, act immediately.

  • Take them seriously
  • Listen
  • Don’t leave them alone
  • Help them get to a professional for an evaluation and treatment

If necessary, take emergency steps to get help, such as calling 911. When someone is in a suicidal crisis, it is important to limit access to firearms or other potential tools for committing suicide, including prescription and over-the-counter medications. An important step in helping to prevent suicide, in any age group, is getting involved.

We’re here to help

If you or someone you love is experiencing symptoms of depression, please contact Peace Hospital for a no-charge assessment and assistance with treatment options.

Call 502-451-3333 or 800-451-3637.

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