Suicide Among Older Adults

Suicide Among Older Adults

If you or someone you love has thought about or expressed suicidal thoughts call for help.

Help is available 24 hours a day 7 days a week.

If you live in Utah, call the UNI CrisisLine and Mobile Crisis Outreach Team at 801-587-3000 or
call the National Suicide Prevention LifeLine at 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
If you are in immediate danger, call 9-1-1

Suicide is a major public health problem in Utah. A total of 557 Utahns die from suicide and 4,543 attempt suicide each year. Two Utahns die as a result of suicide every day and 12 Utahns are treated for suicide attempts every day. More Utahns are treated in an emergency department or hospitalized due to suicide attempts than are fatally injured. Suicide is also the 8th leading cause of death for Utahns aged 10 years and older (1).

  • One older adult dies from suicide every week in Utah.
  • Older adults ages 65+ accounted for 10.7% of all suicide deaths in Utah.
  • Older adults ages 85+ had the highest prevalence of reported thoughts of hurting themselves or that they would be better off dead than adults of other ages (1).

Utah's suicide rate has been consistently higher than the U.S. rate for the last decade. A CDC study found that Utah had the highest prevalence of suicidal thoughts among adults in the U.S. In addition, Utah has the 25th highest older adult (ages 65+) suicide rate in the U.S.

"I suffered a debilitating and life-changing injury and lost much of my independence as a result. I struggled with depression. I never thought I’d struggle with suicidal thoughts."

There are age-specific circumstances and stressors surrounding risk for suicide deaths in Utah. Older adults were more likely to suffer from physical health problems than other age groups.

Risk Factors for Suicide

There are many risk factors for older adult suicide, including:

  • Physical illness
  • Previous suicide attempt(s)
  • History of depression or mental illness
  • Alcohol or drug abuse
  • Family history of suicide or violence
  • Easy access to lethal methods (such as guns or pills)
  • Stressful life event or loss
  • Relationship or school problems

Media Recommendations for Reporting on Suicide

The media plays an important role in preventing youth suicides. However, without careful reporting, media agencies can inadvertently influence individuals at risk of suicide to take their own lives, a phenomenon called suicide contagion. Several guidelines have been developed for use by media agencies, writers, producers, bloggers, editors, and publishers to help safely cover this topic.

References

  1. Utah’s Indicator Based Information System for Public Health (IBIS-PH).