Suicide Prevention in Older Adults

Suicide Prevention in Older Adults

In 2020, people aged 85 and older ranked as having the highest suicide rates of any age group, with older men far surpassing older women in numbers. Individuals in the next youngest category, 75 to 84, were a close second.

Why do some older adults want to take their lives? “A partial answer is isolation coupled with depression,” says InnovAge Director of Chaplain Services Kelly Crabbe. Dr. Leslie Minna, InnovAge’s national director of behavioral healthcare services, agrees. “Post-pandemic stressors have contributed to the negative effects of isolation, loneliness, and loss experienced by many people.”

Risk Factors
In addition to isolation, here are other important risk factors to consider when thinking of older loved ones.
  • Mental health conditions, such as depression or anxiety
  • Loss can be a risk factor. “This can include losing relationships, such as the deaths of loved ones or friends, but it can also be seen in the loss of independence or routine,” explains Minna.  
  • Pain, physical health, or other medical conditions
Education and Prevention
“The key is to be empathic, direct, nonjudgmental, and supportive. If you can gain clarity on the feelings of your loved ones, you can often uncover more information that will enable you to support them. You can also share information about local and national resources to help them connect to a behavioral health and/or medical professional,” says Minna.

If you are concerned about an older loved one, consider talking with their primary care provider or call 988 or text TALK to 741741. Click here for more information.
This article was medically reviewed by Richard Feifer, MD, MPH, FAPC

The information in this article and on InnovAge’s website is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new healthcare regimen.

InnovAge’s Program of All-inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE) offers coordinated healthcare that includes behavioral health services. Complete our brief self-assessment to see if PACE may be right for you or someone you know and talk to a PACE outreach specialist today.

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