Suicide In Older Adults: An Evaluation Of Predisposing Factors And Prevention Programs

2307 words - 9 pages

According to Australian Bureau of Statistics (2005), suicide is the act of intentionally taking one’s own life. This mental health issue is common amongst older adults (Vanderhorst & McLaren, 2005). However, media reports regarding suicide tend to focus on adolescents (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2005). Australian Bureau of Statistics (2005) states adolescents aged 15-19 years had the lowest suicide death rate (9.5 per 100,000); whereas adults aged 30-34 years had the highest suicide rate (27.5 per 100,000). Research indicates that the most successful age group for suicide is older people; one in four suicide attempts result in death (Beeston, 2006). There are factors that predispose older adults to become suicidal, such as; individual, family and community factors. However, there are prevention programs for suicide. Current prevention programs for suicide include different levels of prevention; reducing access to means of suicide; and improving treatment of older people with depression. The effectiveness of these programs will be explored.
An individual factor that predisposes older adults to become suicidal is the mental health of an older adult. An accepted definition of mental health is the level of emotional wellbeing or the absence of a mental disorder (WHO, 2010). Several studies (e.g., Uncapher, Gallagher-Thompson, Osgood & Bongar, 1998; & Neufeld & O’Rourke, 2009) explored the effects of mental health issues in relation to suicide in older adults. These studies found; feeling hopeless, depressed and impulsivity could lead to suicide related ideation. Uncapher, Gallagher-Thompson, Osgood & Bongar (1998) examined suicide related ideation in older adults. Suicidal ideation is a term used in regards to thoughts about suicide, which may include a plan in regards to committing suicide (Uncapher, Gallagher-Thompson, Osgood &Bongar, 1998). Sixty older institutionalised males were divided into two groups; younger psychiatric inpatients (mean age of 69 years) and nursing home patients (mean age of 76 years), participated in a study that examined the relationship between hopelessness, depression and suicidal ideation (Uncapher, Gallagher-Thompson, Osgood & Bongar, 1998). Uncapher, Gallagher-Thompson, Osgood &Bongar (1998) used three scales to rate participants’ levels of depression (The Geriatric Depression Scale), hopelessness (The Geriatric Hopelessness Scale) and suicidal ideation (The Beck Scale of Suicide Ideation). The Geriatric Depression Scale (GDS) contained a 30 item, true or false scale; which measured symptoms of depression (Abraham, 1991; Trenteseau et al., 1989; Yesavage, Brink, Rose, Lum, Huang, Adey & Leirer, 1983, as cited in Uncapher, Gallagher-Thompson, Osgood & Bongar, 1998). Scores ranged from 0 (no depression) to 30 (severe depression). The Beck Scale of Suicide Ideation (BSS) contained 19 items that measured presence intensity of suicidal ideation (Beck, Steer & Ranieri, 1988, as cited in Uncapher,...

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