Special Populations at Risk: Older Adults

Individuals ages 60+ are more likely to complete a suicide attempt than any other demographic.

The Facts

  • Various research has shown that for older adults each year:

    • Increase in suicide attempts for men as they grow older.

    • 16% of the nation's suicide rate are older adults, even when they only account for 12% of the nation's population.

  • Further, according to the Administration on Aging (AOA), 

    • older adults who attempt suicide are often more frail,

    • more isolated,

    • more likely to have a thought out plan, and

    • more determined than other adults.

    • This leads to older adults being less likely to be rescued and more likely to complete a suicide.

  • Contributing factors to the risk of suicide for older adults include alienation/disconnected from family, chronic health problems, consistent death of friends.

Risk Factors

  • Mental illness including depression, bipolar, and substance abuse.

  • Medical conditions that significantly limit functioning or life expectancy.

  • Difficult adjustment to retirement home, other assisted living facility, or other significant changes.

  • Declining role functioning (e.g. loss of mobility, sense of purpose).

  • Past suicide attempts.

Warning Signs

  • Warning signs of suicide by older adults are the same as for other adults.  Learn more by clicking here.  However, keep in mind the older adult's perspective and specific situation(s) must be taken into account.

What to Do

  • Steps you would take for older adults in crisis are the same as for other adults.  Learn more by clicking here.  However, keep in mind the older adult's perspective and specific situation(s) must be taken into account.