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Older adults more likely to disclose suicidal thoughts as they age

Older adults more likely to disclose suicidal thoughts as they age
From Reuters - October 4, 2017

(Reuters Health) - More than one in five older adults who commit suicide disclose their intention to kill themselves before taking their own lives, a U.S. study suggests.

Overall, 23 percent of suicide victims age 50 or older shared suicidal thoughts with another person in the month before their death, the study found. Disclosure rates were higher among the elderly, and more common when people had chronic health problems or suffered from depression.

Many older adults who commit suicide without sharing their intentions in advance may have been reluctant to discuss these feelings because they were afraid how doctors or family members might react, said lead study author Namkee Choi, of the University of Texas at Austin Steve Hicks School of Social Work.

Some older adults at risk of suicide may not want to disclose their suicide intent if they think family members and healthcare and social service providers may force them into inpatient treatment or dismiss their disclosure, Choi said by email.

Healthcare providers, especially primary care physicians who frequently see older adults with health problems and depression, should routinely assess suicide risk along with access to guns and other means of suicide, Choi added.

For the study, Choi and colleagues examined data on 46,857 suicide deaths among adults 50 or older in U.S. states participating in a national reporting system from 2005 through 2014.

Overall, 10,971 people in the study had disclosed an explicit intent to take their own lives, shared an indirect interest in doing something to end their pain and suffering, or attempted suicide at least once in the month before they died by suicide.

This didnt include people who shared their plans to kill themselves right before they did it, because this didnt provide time to intervene to stop the suicide, researchers note in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

People who did share their intentions before committing suicide were more likely to be older, white, married and military veterans, the study found.

Individuals who disclosed suicidal thoughts were also more likely to have depression and to have chronic health problems, the study also found.

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