How to Stop the Elderly Suicide Epidemic

Posted in #AgeWell


Depression smIs suicide in elderly populations a major concern?

Yes, it’s a huge concern. It must be better addressed.
Adults aged 65 and older have a high rate of suicide. Those 85 and older have the highest rate of suicide among adults. This may come as a surprise to many people. While great steps have already been taken to help seniors, I believe we can do more. To help the mental health of our seniors, we first must understand why it’s happening and identify roadblocks to getting them the services they need.

Why is the elderly population the “forgotten” demographic?

Older people today grew up in a time when mental health services were cruder. Lobotomies were actually a legitimate alternative treatment for mental illness, in addition to other barbaric practices, like insulin shock therapy.

Imagine learning about these treatments as a teenager or young adult. That would lead to negative connotations about mental health services.

There is still a stigma about mental health illnesses within the general population. Among the elderly population, that stigma is even stronger. Not only are older adults fearful of being judged by their community, they also self-stigmatize.

This makes older adults less willing or even fearful to seek mental health services. As noted in a study carried out by leading mental health experts, a high prevalence of stigma leads to poorer adherence to medication and treatment regimens.

If you or someone you know needs help, call 1-800-273-8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. You can also text HELLO to 741-741 for free, 24-hour support from the Crisis Text Line. Outside of the U.S., please visit the International Association for Suicide Prevention for a database of resources.