Suicide Among the Elderly The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) considers depression among elders to be an under-diagnosed and under-treated mental illness (2002b). Although depression is not a natural consequence of aging itself, about 6%of those age 65 years and older have a depressive illness (NIMH, 2002a). Depression may be difficult to ... Article
Article  |   December 01, 2002
Suicide Among the Elderly
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Rosemary Lubinski
    University at Buffalo
Article Information
Special Populations / Older Adults & Aging / Articles
Article   |   December 01, 2002
Suicide Among the Elderly
SIG 15 Perspectives on Gerontology, December 2002, Vol. 7, 6-8. doi:10.1044/gero7.3.6
SIG 15 Perspectives on Gerontology, December 2002, Vol. 7, 6-8. doi:10.1044/gero7.3.6
The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) considers depression among elders to be an under-diagnosed and under-treated mental illness (2002b). Although depression is not a natural consequence of aging itself, about 6%of those age 65 years and older have a depressive illness (NIMH, 2002a). Depression may be difficult to diagnose because care providers and elders themselves may dismiss symptoms of depression as a part of the aging process, spend little time discussing mood disorders, or focus on other physical and social needs. Some elders may not feel comfortable broaching the topic of depression with caregivers, considering it a personal weakness to feel depressed. At the very worst, depression among elders may lead to suicide. In fact, the elderly have the highest rate of suicide across all age groups in the nation (NIMH, 2002c). According to the Surgeon General (2002), although elders represent about 13% of the general population, suicide among older persons accounts for 20% of all deaths. About one suicide occurs among the elderly every 90 minutes, about 18 each day (McIntosh, 2002; National Strategy for Suicide Prevention,2002). It is important to remember that suicide attempts among the elderly are often long-planned and involve high lethality methods. Elderly adult attempts at suicide tend to be fatal (Szanto et al., 2002) .
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