Senior Citizens

Excerpt from the book “The Truth About Fear and Depression” by Heather Denkmire

Young people are not the only group at risk for suicide. Senior citizens are at even greater risk. According to a 2003 report by the National Institute of Mental Health although senior citizens comprise only 13 percent of the population, people aged 65 and older accounted for 18 percent of all suicide deaths in the United States in 2000. Among the highest rates (when categorized by gender and race) were white men aged 85 and older: 59 deaths per 100,000 persons in 2000, more than five times the national US rat of 10.6 per 100,000.

Social isolation may contribute to many of the suicides among seniors. A suicidal crisis for seniors often follows being widowed, the death of a friend or relative, living alone, or anticipation of placement in a nursing home. As with younger people, suicide among the elderly is associated with depression, alcoholism, chronic medical illness, and having access to firearms. People who are depressed–young and old–should not use alcohol or drugs or have access to firearms. The National Strategy for Suicide Prevention (1998) reported that death by firearms was the most common method of suicide (71 percent) among persons aged 65 years and older.

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