Many assume that suicide is a problem for teenagers or young adults and therefore has little bearing on the lives of older adults. This assumption, however common, is incorrect. Suicide is a problem for every population, especially older adults. According to the Suicide Prevention Resource Center (SPRC), the suicide rate in those people aged 45-54 is higher than any other age group. Also, while people over the age of 65 attempt suicide less than other age groups, their rate of suicide is higher: 1 in 4 suicide attempts are completed in the over 65 age group, compared to 1 in every 100-200 attempts in those aged 15-24.
The truth of the matter is, older adults can have mental health issues too. These mental health issues can lead them to take their own lives just as much as teenagers and young adults. For the elderly in particular, they may be facing the onset of debilitating diseases, attending funerals of close friends and family, feeling restricted by their aging bodies, and worrying about being financial or emotional burdens to their families. All of these problems can make an elderly person want to take his or her own life because he or she feels lonely, helpless, and useless.
So, if you have a middle-aged or elderly relative or friend who makes statements that indicate a desire to die (such as, “Everyone would be better off if I was dead” or “I just want to die”), please take steps to ensure that your relative or friend is not contemplating suicide. Talk to them about it; let them know how much they mean to you and everyone else in their life, and let them know that you do not want them to die. If you fear they are an immediate danger to themselves, call 911. If you think they are safe for now, speak to their doctor or healthcare provider to see what can be done to help them.