Depression and suicide affects every generation.
No generation is free from the risk of suicide. In fact, people over the age of 85 have a higher rate of suicide than any other group in the United States. Catching depression, and other mental illness, early on can massively reduce those numbers and bring hope for recovery.
Warning signs of suicide and depression are different for seniors. Nostalgia, talking about death, and changes in lifestyle are all normal parts of aging-depression is not. Seniors tend to show depression or mental illness through irritation, isolation, and loss of purpose.
Chronic illness, chronic pain, a loss of independence, social disconnection, and the loss of long-term friends to death can all play a part in depression.
A silent struggle for the silent generation
Stigma around mental illnesses can make it difficult for older generations to reach out for help. Historic forms of treatment and a lack of understanding lead to misconceptions and fears to admit mental illness or difficulty. Despite their high rate of suicide, seniors only make up 3% of suicide hotline calls. Today there are many ways to seek help.
Preventing Senior Suicide
Stay connected: help prevent social isolation by staying in touch with family and neighbors. Join fitness classes and clubs to make friends and encourage physical activity outside of the house.
Take advantage of available programs: Every county in Idaho has a variety of public programs to help keep seniors mobile. These programs help seniors stay connected and maintain a sense of independence.
Programs in Magic Valley:
Fit and Fall Proof. Classes to build muscles that will help prevent falls. These classes are also a great way to build friendships.
Senior Services. A telephone, e-mail or ‘walk-in’ service which can help older persons, their family members, and caregivers find answers to their questions about programs and services available to them in their own communities.
Senior Centers. There are four senior centers in Twin Falls alone, several more in surrounding areas.
Support Groups. The CSI Office on Aging offers the following support groups for seniors and their families: Caregiver Support Group, Grandparents as Parents, and Widowed Support Groups.
Reach out for help if you struggle with depression or suicidal thoughts: There are people who want to help if you will let them. If you are contemplating suicide or even need a little help reach out to loved ones, professionals, or hotlines like The Friendship Hotline or the 24 hour suicide hotline.
Above all else, remember that you are needed and there are people who want to help. Seniors are a community's greatest source of wisdom and experience. You are needed to help the upcoming generations thrive. Do not underestimate your impact or worth.