Among older adults in particular, suicide is a significant concern: While older adults comprise just 12% of the population, they make up approximately 18% of suicides. In 2017, among the more than 47,000 suicides that took place in the U.S., 8,500 were attributed to people age 65 and up.
The NVDRS 2015 data showed that, among men of all races, men over 65 were the most likely to die of suicides (27.67 suicides per 100,000), closely followed by men 40–64 (27.10 suicides per 100,000). Men 20–39 (23.41 per 100,000) and 15–19 (13.81 per 100,000) were less likely to die of suicides.
Older adult suicide is often triggered by elders’ loss of control over health conditions or financial circumstances that results in feelings of hopelessness. By the time older adults enter their seventh decade of life, their thoughts inevitably turn to life assessments.
Suicide rates have actually declined for older adults since 1999, but they remain higher than those in most other age groups. Until recently, suicide rates leveled off or declined when people were in their 40s and 50s.
The percentage of adults who experienced any symptoms of depression was highest among those aged 18–29 (21.0%), followed by those aged 45–64 (18.4%) and 65 and over (18.4%), and lastly, by those aged 30–44 (16.8%). Women were more likely than men to experience mild, moderate, or severe symptoms of depression.
Increase provider awareness of substance abuse and mental health problems in older adults. Make systematic screening tools available to staff in medical and non-medical settings, and train staff to screen for suicide risk. Address social isolation and lack of access to social support for at-risk older adults.
The reported proportion of individuals who have consulted GPs in the month prior to suicide has varied between 20% and 76%. Low rates of consultation have been recorded in those aged <35 years3 and high rates in those aged >60 years.
Physical conditions like stroke, hypertension, atrial fibrillation, diabetes, cancer, dementia, and chronic pain further increase the risk of depression. Additionally, these risk factors for depression are often seen in older adults: Certain medicines or combination of medicines.
The five leading causes of death among teenagers are Accidents (unintentional injuries), homicide, suicide, cancer, and heart disease. Accidents account for nearly one-half of all teenage deaths.