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Suicide rate for elderly men is alarming

By Dennis Streets
Posted Tuesday, January 27, 2015

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Pittsboro, NC - The North Carolina Injury & Violence Prevention Branch, part of the State Division of Public Health, has just released the 2015 N.C Suicide Prevention Plan. A related report from this branch, "Elder Suicide in North Carolina," presented some alarming data.

From 2008 to 2011, 905 North Carolinians age 65 and older died as a result of violence, with 741 of them committing suicide. More than 80 percent of these elder suicides were men-mostly white men who used firearms.

About half of elder male suicide victims were categorized as being in a "current depressed mood," as compared to 37 percent of female victims. Only 5 percent of elder male victims had disclosed a history of prior suicide attempts. One in four of the male victims reportedly had "a crisis within the last two weeks."

More than half of the elder female victims had a current mental health problem and had received treatment. More than half of the men (57%) and nearly half of the women had a physical health problem. Nearly a third of the men and about one-fourth of the women had disclosed their intent to commit suicide to someone else.

You may be asking-what does this mean and why is it important?

First, we need to acknowledge that there can be many sources of stress for older adults with the loss of loved ones, mobility, physical wellness, employment, and other factors.

Second, we must realize that some individuals have had mental health problems throughout their lives, while others experience them in later life. Either way, we should encourage use of mental health services just as we would seek treatment for physical ailments.

Third, we must each do our part to identify signs of depression and other mental health issues that may predispose individuals to violence against themselves or others.

Fourth, we should encourage mental health wellness along with physical health. The Chatham County Council on Aging offers a variety of opportunities to encourage mental health wellness and coping with loss. These include participation in Healthy IDEAS for those dealing with depression; support groups for caregivers and those grieving the loss of loved ones; and many opportunities for remaining active and involved with others.

Contact or visit the Council's Eastern and Western Senior Centers to learn more (919-542-4512 in Pittsboro; 919-742-3975 in Siler City).

Cardinal Innovations Healthcare Solutions manages mental health and substance abuse services for people who are uninsured or have Medicaid. Individuals in need of services may contact Cardinal Innovations' Access line at 1-800-939-5911 to be referred to a contracted provider. One of these providers is Trinity Behavioral Healthcare, which has clinics in Siler City at 919-663-2955 and Pittsboro at 919-542-2141.

For those wanting information on suicide prevention efforts, visit the Triangle Coalition for Suicide Prevention's website at . If you or someone you know is thinking about suicide, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

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Suicide rate for elderly men is alarming