Seniors may be especially at risk for suicide right now

Capital Caring Health Grief Support experts offer advice on risk, warning signs and where to go for help.

Take isolation and loneliness, add illness or chronic disease, anxiety over COVID-19 and restrictions, plus the holidays, and the risk of suicide, including among seniors, is at an all-time high.

  • Everyday 123 Americans die of suicide (2018)
  • The pandemic has heightened pre-existing physical and mental health issues that have increased depression and suicide rates; the biggest risk factors are related to social isolation
  • Highest rates of suicide are among those age 75 and older; especially males and those divorced or widowed; and among women aged 45-54

What can you do? Capital Caring Health Director of Grief Support Marcie Fairbanks (available for interview) advises what to watch for and the help available.

Capital Caring Health, a nonprofit elder health and advanced illness/hospice provider understands being alone—especially at the holidays—or coping with illness are already a challenge. Adding the emotional stress and anxiety from worrying about ourselves or loved ones during the pandemic and social isolation makes it especially important to stay socially connected, and pay attention to our own feelings as well as what we see and hear from loved ones, friends, and neighbors.

Among the risk factors that may be especially prevalent among seniors:

  • Mental health conditions (affects 1 in 5 adults and often goes undiagnosed among seniors)
  • Major physical and/or chronic illnesses
  • Lack of social support and a sense of isolation
  • Stigma associated with asking others for help, especially for emotional or psychological issues

Among the suicide warning signs to watch for:

  • Talking about:
    • Being a “burden” to others
    • Feeling hopeless or having no purpose
    • Feeling trapped or being in unbearable pain.
    • Wanting to die or kill oneself and looking for a way to kill oneself
  • Increasing use of alcohol or drugs
  • Acting anxious, agitated, or reckless
  • Sleeping too little or too much
  • Withdrawing or feeling isolated
  • Displaying extreme mood swings

To help, CCH offers free counseling and support groups to anyone dealing with depression, trauma, or loss within the communities we serve throughout Washington, DC, Maryland and Virginia. CCH also has written guides on dealing with loss related to COVID-19 for adults and families with children as well as the newly bereaved.

For anyone in need of immediate help for themselves or someone else, call or text (for live chat) the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline:1-800-273-TALK (8255) 24/7. Help is also available Spanish.

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Reach out to one of our care experts today.