Posts Tagged suicide

Suicide in Caucasian Men over 85 years old

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Here is a statistic you may not be aware of- according to the CDC, white men over the age of 85 are more likely to commit suicide as compared to Americans in any other age group.  Here is excerpt from the CDC:
In 2013, there were over 41,000 suicides in the United States –an average of 113 each day. Each suicide takes a substantial toll on individuals, families and communities. The medical costs and lost wages associated with suicide are estimated to be $44.6 billion per year. These numbers underestimate the severity of the problem. In the United States, for every one suicide there are 25 attempted suicides. In 2013, over 494,000 people were treated in US emergency departments for self-inflected injuries. In addition, many more people struggle with thoughts of suicide. During 2008– 2009, over 8 million adults reported having suicidal thoughts in the previous year and 2.2 million adults reported having made suicide plans.
The risk for suicidal behavior is complex. People of all genders, ages, and ethnicities can be at risk for suicide but some groups are at higher risk than others. Men are about four times more likely than women to die from suicide. However, women are more likely to express suicidal thoughts and to make nonfatal attempts than men. In the past, suicide was addressed by providing mental health services to people who were already experiencing or showing signs of suicidal thoughts or behavior. While such services are critical, preventing suicide at a national level will require approaches that go beyond mental health issues to address broader family, community, and societal issues.
For more information related to seniors in particular, please see the article below from the Washington Post.
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Lawsuit blames Phoenix VA Medical Center for veteran’s suicide

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Lawsuit blames Phoenix VA Medical Center for veteran’s suicide | Fox News.

Do you work in the medical field?  Have you considered the impact bad news can have on a patient?  In this story, a veteran received word from the VA that his cancer had spread to his lungs, and he had only weeks to live.  Very sadly, the man committed suicide.  But, only a day after the suicide, the hospital called and said the diagnosis was wrong and he was not about to die. The wife has a 2.5 million lawsuit.  This is a very real reminder to doctors, nurses, social workers and other health care professionals- please double check such a diagnosis before handing it over to a patient. To those who have cancer and are struggling to have hope- know there is hope and that others love you and care for you.  If you are depressed and feeling hopeless and have a desire to commit suicide, please talk to a friend, pastor or professional counselor about your feelings.

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The Elderly and Suicide on the Highways

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Suicide methods – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Today, just a few miles from my house on Hwy 81 going towards Stuttgart (Germany) there was a bad accident which resulted in two deaths. The traffic was backed up for miles, so I returned home to take the kids to school on the train.

A friend emailed me the news story and according to witnesses, this driver (an 82 year old man and his 75 year old wife) went 14 km (about 7 miles) on the wrong side of the road brushing by five cars. A phone call was made to the police, but the police were too late. The elderly man got on the interstate… crashed into another car; killing himself and a 40 year old man (who was in the back seat).

The reason of WHY this man did this are unknown. One theory, is that he was trying to commit suicide. Wanting to know more this topic, I did some research on the internet. This type of suicide on the highways is most often caused by driving on the wrong side of the road. This is rare, but does happen. It is known to be a suicide when there is a suicide note, verbal threats before hand of wanting to commit suicide, or previous attempts to commit suicide.

It is estimated that there are more suicides by vehicle accident than can be known. These are just recorded as an “accident”. If you are a doctor, nurse, social worker, or chaplain working in a hospital ER it is very important to consider this if you have a patient who was in an accident going the wrong way…..

Take the time to talk to your patient. Communicate empathy and safety, but ask if that patient was trying to hurt him or herself. This can begin a process of the patient receiving professional help. You might just help save a life.

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Whistle-blower Says VA Ignored Data- Could Have Saved Lives

Whistle-blower says VA ignored data that could have helped suicidal, sick veterans | Fox News.

“The highest-level whistle-blower ever to come forward at the Department of Veterans Affairs is leveling accusations of serious ethical lapses, claiming an agency intentionally manipulated and suppressed data which resulted in veterans — particularly suicidal veterans — being denied critical care.”

Having a father who fought in Vietnam and a brother who fought in Afghanistan, I know that there are not only physical, but mental scars that remain from time spent in combat. The VA is supposed to be an organization with the highest ethical standards, whose goal is to support veterans. Apparently, the organization has some serious flaws- even to the point of trying to cover up data which showed veterans were in need of additional medical care. My guess, is that the VA is doing this to cut costs. I hope there is a full investigation and an improvement in services to our valuable veterans; particularly in the area of mental health.

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Papa As a Young Man

I Visited My Grandfather’s Village To Understand How He Died. Instead, I Discovered How He Lived. – Tablet Magazine.

In this article, a young man took a journey overseas to discover more about his grandfather; a man he knew little about because he committed suicide. The grandson was most interested in his grandfather’s experience during WWII as a Holocaust survivor. What the grandson ended up discovering, was more about his grandfather’s life when he was a young man. The story was touching. If only we could go back in time and meet our relatives when they were young men and women. To see their faces, hear them laugh, and discover what gave them joy….

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Suicide and The Elderly

When you consider those whom commit suicide, do you consider those in their 70’s or 80’s?  I don’t.  When I pause to consider this topic, I think of teenagers who don’t feel accepted by their peers and middle-aged men who are in a mid-life crisis or who have had a radical change in their finances.

Wanting to learn more about this issue, I read an article from USA Today (2007) regarding suicide in older adults.  The article gave a few real-life stories of suicide in the elderly and I was surprised how often this occurs.  Certainly, there are people from every age group (starting with young children) who commit suicide; but for some reason, suicide among the elderly rarely crosses my mind. Read the rest of this entry »

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