About suicide and the elderlyAccording to information from the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control operated by the CDC, the elderly make up a little over 12 percent of the population but account for almost 16 percent of all suicides.
According to information from the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control operated by the CDC, the elderly make up a little over 12 percent of the population but account for almost 16 percent of all suicides. In 2004 there were 5,198 suicides among those 65 and older.
Elderly white men were at highest risk, and white men over the age of 85 were at the greatest risk of all age, gender and race groups. In 2004 the suicide rate for these men was 48.4 per 100,000, 2.5 times the current rate for men of all ages.
Among suicides by the elderly, almost 85 percent were male. The rate of male suicides late in life is 7.7 times greater than for female suicides.
The rate of suicide among the elderly has declined steadily since a peak in 1987. This is the largest decline since the 1930s.
Firearms are the most common means used for suicide by the elderly. Alcohol and substance abuse play a diminishing role in later life compared to younger suicides. The leading cause of suicide among the elderly is depression, often undiagnosed and/or untreated.
Common risk factors include:
The warning signs for suicide include:
For more information about suicide and its prevention, go to the Suicide Prevention Resource Center at www.sprc.org or call 1-877-438-7772. Additional information about suicide is available from the American Association of Suicidology at www.suicideology.org.
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a 24-hour, toll-free suicide prevention service available to anyone in suicidal crisis. For help, call 1-800-273-8255. Calls are routed to the closest crisis center to the caller. Call for yourself, or someone you care about. All calls are free and confidential.