Suicide: Older Adults at Risk

September 12, 2014

National Suicide Prevention Week

This week is National Suicide Prevention Week, an opportunity to discuss a subject that is too often considered “taboo.” According to the most recent statistics released by the Centers for Disease Control, the suicide rate in the United States is climbing, despite the efforts of public health and mental health advocates to raise awareness and encourage people to seek help.

The most recent statistics from the CDC (from 2011) reveal that U.S. national suicide deaths rose slightly for the fifth year in a row from 12.1 per 100,000 in 2010 to 12.3 per 100,000 in 2011 (rates are per 100,000 individuals). Data from 2012 and 2013 have not yet been released.

Older men are particularly at risk for self-harm. While the risk of suicide declines for women with advancing age, statistics show that men’s risk increases as they get older. Older men die by suicide at a rate that is more than seven times higher than that of older women. White men aged 85+ die from suicide at a rate four times higher than the average rate of suicide nationally. Firearms are the most common method of suicide in older adults (67%), followed by poisoning (14%) and suffocation (12%). Continue reading “Suicide: Older Adults at Risk”