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Midlife suicide rates rising

The suicide rate among 45 to 54 year olds went up almost 20 percent from 1999 to 2004, according to a recently released study by the Centers for Disease Control and reported by The New York Times.

Researchers were puzzled by the trend, but some health care providers foresaw it due to their work with depressed clients, according to The Times.

A National Public Radio program discussed depression at midlife, and what help and treatments are available. Dr. Eda Goldstein, author of “When the Bubble Bursts: Clinical Perspectives on Midlife Issues,” and Dr. Myrna Weissman, chief of the Division of Clinical and Genetic Epidemiology at New York State Psychiatric Institute, participated in the discussion.

If you’re depressed or someone you know is, it’s important to seek help. Call your local health department for resources available in your community.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a 24-hour, toll-free suicide prevention service available to anyone in suicidal crisis. If you need help, dial 1-800-273-TALK (8255). You’ll be routed to the closest crisis center in your area. Calls are free and confidential.

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Gary Geyer

Baby Boomers are more prone to committing suicide than any generation before them. To make matters scarier, boomers are approaching their senior years facing a fact that seniors have the highest suicide rate of any age group (and that rate grows even higher as we get older).

Those over 65 represent about 13% of the United States population. But when it comes to suicide, the percentage is close to 20%.

Put in more dramatic way…
Every 90 minutes a person 65 or older commits suicide.

There are of course, many factors: The perception of poor health rather than an actual specific illness; poor sleep quality; loneliness; lack of friends or relatives to confide in; fading memory and other brain disorders; financial stress and not to be overlooked, the possession of firearms. (Firearms are the most common method of suicide used in later life.)*
Surprisingly, medical illness and alcohol don’t seem to be a factor.

A factor that is made worse during the holiday season is loneliness. The absence of friends or relatives can be devastating. During the holiday season it's especially painful.
Seniors are funny.

Many boomers and seniors have no problem telling you about their aches and pains. But unlike younger generations, when it comes to their mental health—depression, loneliness, etc— their lips are sealed. There’s also a myth out there that it is normal to be depressed as one gets older. That leaves many people who might otherwise be helped by medications, go untreated.

Here are some symptoms to look out for:
An “empty” feeling, a worthless feeling, nervousness, restlessness, irritability, lack of enjoyment of things previously enjoyed, sleeping more (or less) than usual, chronic pain, persistent headaches and/or stomach aches, a feeling of being unloved and that life is not worth living anymore.

According to a recent study, strong social support and religious beliefs may act as a suicide deterrent. The study reported that many seniors say they get a great deal of comfort and support from their religion.

Doctors need to be more aware of the suicide potential of their older patients and start asking more direct questions. Instead of asking “Do you have feelings of depression?” a question like, “Are you having suicidal thoughts?” is more to the point.

We must start watching out for each other and notice warning signs. We need to show we care. Our friends (even those who are just acquaintances) and relatives need our support and understanding. A visit or even a phone call can make a difference.

We all deserve to live longer lives.


Gary Geyer is Editor-in-Chief of "Let Life Im" www.LetLifeIn.com

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The statistics are shocking: The current edition of 50plus Online Magazine (www.50plusMag.com) features an article with the title “Boomer / Senior Suicide on the Rise.” The article states that every 90 minutes someone 65 or older commits suicide. It goes on to say that the news for Baby Boomers isn’t much better. Boomers are more prone to ending their own lives than any generation before them.
To make matters scarier, boomers are approaching their senior years facing a fact that seniors have the highest suicide rate of any age group (20% of total suicides in the United States) The rate grows even higher as seniors get older.
“There are of course, many factors: The perception of poor health rather than an actual specific illness; poor sleep quality; fading memory and other brain disorders and financial stress,” explained Gary Geyer, the Editor of 50plus Online Magazine (www.50plusMag.com).
A factor that is made worse during the holiday season is loneliness. The absence of friends or relatives can be devastating. During the holiday season it's especially painful.

We need to start watching out for each other and show that we care. Our relatives and friends (even those who are just acquaintances) need our support and understanding. A visit or even a phone call can make a difference.
“We have to be on the lookout and watch for warning signs,” says Geyer. “Signs such as an “empty” or worthless feeling, nervousness, restlessness, irritability, lack of enjoyment of things previously enjoyed, sleeping more (or less) than usual, chronic pain, persistent headaches and/or stomach aches, a feeling of being unloved and that life is not worth living anymore”.
We all deserve to live longer lives.
Being 50+ should be an opportunitY for new beginnings, not the end.
Boomer / Senior Suicide on the Rise
By Gary Geyer
Here’s some shocking news:
Baby Boomers are more prone to committing suicide than any generation before them. To make matters scarier, boomers are approaching their senior years facing a fact that seniors have the highest suicide rate of any age group (and that rate grows even higher as we get older).
Those over 65 represent about 13% of the United States population. But when it comes to suicide, the percentage is close to 20%.
Put in more dramatic way…
Every 90 minutes a person 65 or older commits suicide.
Why is that?
There are of course, many factors: The perception of poor health rather than an actual specific illness; poor sleep quality; loneliness; lack of friends or relatives to confide in; fading memory and other brain disorders; financial stress and not to be overlooked, the possession of firearms. (Firearms are the most common method of suicide used in later life.)*
Surprisingly, medical illness and alcohol don’t seem to be a factor.
Seniors are funny.
Many seniors have no problem telling you about their aches and pains. But unlike younger generations, when it comes to their mental health—depression, loneliness, etc— their lips are sealed. There’s also a myth out there that it is normal to be depressed as one gets older. That leaves many people who might otherwise be helped by medications, go untreated.
Here are some symptoms to look out for:
An “empty” feeling, a worthless feeling, nervousness, restlessness, irritability, lack of enjoyment of things previously enjoyed, sleeping more (or less) than usual, chronic pain, persistent headaches and/or stomach aches, a feeling of being unloved and that life is not worth living anymore. Depressing, isn’t it?
Some hope.
According to a recent study, strong social support and religious beliefs may act as a suicide deterrent. The study reported that many seniors say they get a great deal of comfort and support from their religion.
Doctors need to be more aware of the suicide potential of their older patients and start asking more direct questions. Instead of asking “Do you have feelings of depression?” a question like, “Are you having suicidal thoughts?” is more to the point.
What we all can do.
We must start watching out for each other and notice warning signs. We need to show we care. Our friends (even those who are just acquaintances) and relatives need our support and understanding. A visit or even a phone call can make a difference.
We all deserve to live longer lives.
Editor’s note: This is a serious problem that can effect us all. Please offer your suggestions on how we all can help.

Rita

Hi Gary,

Thank you for the tips on how to be aware of the signs of possible suicidal behavior in older adults.

Rita

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