Sunday, September 15, 2013

Why assume suicide is always about depression?

Stuff has an article today about the increasing suicide rate amongst baby boomers:

Marie Hull-Brown, a mental health promoter at the Mental Health Foundation, said the figures were distressing but "not surprising".
"Seeing friends die, family moving away and one's home becoming increasingly hard to maintain are losses that are hard to bear, and older people may become depressed about their ability to manage alone, yet not want to see their GP about the black dog that sits on their shoulder."
Conwell said there needed to be improved detection and treatment of depression in older adults, social programmes to reach out to isolated seniors, and access to good health care that allowed them to remain as independent as possible.
If you or someone you know is feeling depressed contact the following services, available 24 hours a day, seven days a week unless otherwise specified.

Some information about exactly why individual elderly people commit suicide would be useful. How many have been diagnosed with some illness they simply do not want to face or put their families through? This generation, more than any prior, favours voluntary euthanasia. Perhaps because it is more secular. Perhaps because baby-boomers have enjoyed more control over their lives and destinations than previous generations. Without that facility I am certain more people are taking action themselves.

In any case I can't see that suicide - causes and prevention - should be treated generically across vastly different age groups. A young person suiciding is likely avoiding life. An ageing person suiciding is quite possibly avoiding death - a long, painful or undignified death that is.


S. Beast said...

You didn't mention the obvious link between retirement and suicide - the research that shows worklessness even for a short time period is known to cause deterioration of multiple health outcomes, including depression.

Anonymous said...

And then there is the problem that there are almost as many types of depression as there are patients. Cause and effect is not a simple assessment.[or answer]