Sunday, March 23, 2008


Today I was reminded how fragile life is when a colleague phoned to tell me one of our seniors in our community had jumped from a building committing suicide. My friend was devastated. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, in the year 2000, 5,306 persons aged 65 and older died by suicide. There is great concern about the alarming numbers of older adults who suffer from depression and thoughts of suicide, and -because they are too often undiagnosed and untreated- may go on to take their own lives. The years I worked in the psychiatric hospital gave me an appreciation for the seriousness of the situation when an individual makes a statement or exhibits behavior indicating they are considering taking their life. If you encounter an individual who you think my be thinking about suicide, take that next step and ask the tough question "Are you thinking about harming yourself, are you thinking about suicide?" Asking the question is not planting the idea of suicide, the idea was already there. If the individual admits to thoughts of suicide, get help. Call the mental health services in your area, they would be listed in the yellow pages under mental health, do not delay.

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