Suicide ranks number 10 as the leading cause of death in America. Conversations about suicide rarely include seniors, but they should. Suicide rates increase with age, and elderly men in industrialized countries tend to see the highest suicide rates, as discussed in the journal Advances in Psychiatric Treatment. The journal noted rates were highest among elderly Caucasian men in the U.S., although rates among African-American men are higher in younger age groups.
There are countless reasons as to why someone would take their own life, but new research has found that there may be a link between suicide and inflammation.
Link between suicide and inflammation
By analyzing previous studies, researchers found that an increase in chemicals called cytokines, which lead to inflammation, is higher among people who have attempted suicide or are thinking about it. These changes were seen in comparison to individuals who were being treated for a psychosis, but did not contemplate nor attempt suicide.
Cytokines have been shown to contribute to inflammation in the joints, heart and lungs, and usually appear under high amounts of stress.
About 18 previous studies were examined to uncover the latest findings. Researchers from Georgia Regents University examined 583 psychiatric patients with suicidality, 315 without and 845 healthy patients. Patients with suicidality were shown to have an increase in cytokines.
The goal of the study was to create a suicide test and although researchers point out its important to recognize biological markers, a direct cause and effect is still unknown.
Tips to prevent suicidal tendencies
As mentioned there are many reasons for a person to choose to commit suicide. Among the elderly some common factors include:
- Getting older
- Mental illness
- Alcohol misuse
- Physical or chronic illness
- Living in pain.
By taking steps to avoid these common risk factors, seniors can work toward preventing suicide. Some useful suggestions are:
- If lonely, reach out to friends and family or join community events
- If they lost a loved one, seek out therapy can offer effective coping mechanisms to heal
- Get assistance for dealing with illnesses and managing them properly can make for better quality of life
- Get mental illness checked and managed
- Seek help for substance abuse.
These are just some ways to combat suicidal tendencies linked to common risk factors. Although the list of risk factors may be endless, understanding why someone is experiencing suicidal thoughts can help prevent the person from following through.
Suicide related discussion matters
An open discussion can help prevent suicidal tendencies in seniors. Typically, talks about senior suicide don’t occur very often. By recognizing that seniors, too, can have suicidal tendencies we can put into place better policies and programs to promote better well-being in this age group. If we open up the lines of communication we can become more aware of the issues and create programs to combat them.
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