I hope this post will help you do just that.
Since 2007, Baby Boomers have had the highest rate of suicide of any age group in the United States. Historically, people between the ages of 40 and 64 have had one of the lowest rates.
To complicate matters, we Boomers are now sliding into the over-65 demographic, an age group that historically has had one of the highest suicide rates.
According to the American Journal of Preventive Medicine rates remained stable for other groups, while suicides among people aged 40 to 64 years have risen nearly 40%.
Top reasons are:
Since the beginning of the Great Recession, 8.8 million jobs were lost, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Middle-aged people were disproportionately affected in terms of lost property value, household finances, and lost retirement savings. Lack of emotional preparedness has been id'd as a key factor.
- Loss of Friends/Death of a Spouse/Isolation
Loss of support when friends or family members die or move away, and/or loss of a life-long spouse, can trigger feelings of hopelessness for a future worth sticking around for;
The highest rates of suicide occur in states with the lowest population density, such as Montana, Alaska, Utah, Wyoming, New Mexico, Idaho, Colorado, Nevada, and South Dakota.
- Medical Conditions/Meds
Formerly fit Boomers suddenly finding themselves infirm can impulsively believe life not worth living before giving themselves the chance to acclimate;
Many meds, including those for high blood pressure & heart disease, have depression as a side-effect
- Overwhelm From Being "Sandwiched"
When folks spend their mid-lives continually caring for dependent elders plus adult children, they can begin to believe there's no end in sight
can do about it:
- S/He becomes more reclusive
When folks begin to lose hope, they shut everyone out. Don't let them. “You can’t notice if someone has changed if you’re not connected to them,” she said. “You’re not going to make someone suicidal if you ask them if they’re thinking about suicide. You may help them get better” says Dr. Jill Harkavy-Friedman, vice president of research for the AFSP
Instead, become their first line of support, then help them re-building a support network, including friends, loved ones, and medical professionals — this is an important step in preventing suicide according to Dr. Harkavy...
- No longer coping with problems the way they used to
Most depression is "situational" meaning it's caused by what's going on in a person's life at that time rather than mental illness/a chemical imbalance. That means the situation can improve again if given enough time and resources. But when someone says "I just can't deal with this anymore" it may not be rhetorical, so don't assume it is.
Help them cope/strategize with them on solutions. According to Dr. Rene McGovern, a clinical psychology professor at the Arizona School of Professional Psychology at Argosy University, whose clinical work has focused on adult and geriatric health psychology, “Resilience is gained through hardship. It’s how we learn. The longer you live, the downturn is a blip. It’s very easy to help a depressed person. You have to give them a reason to live. Once we move through that darkness, we live with intention.”
- Increased drinking or drug use (eg substance abuse)
Often folks try to "self-medicate" their problems away...this is a recipe for a downward spiral that simply won't fix itself.
Express your concern...don't be shy or embarrassed, or worry about "overstepping your bounds" - saving a life is worth it; paying attention, and caring enough to tell someone of your concern (and clear willingness to talk about anything that's bothering them) is the first step in the right direction. But most assuredly, do not participate with them in their destructive behavior
- Reckless behavior/increased agitation/giving away belongings
Hopelessness can manifest via increased risk-taking to the point of scarey, or the desire to divest oneself of worldly belongings in preparation for the end.
Stop/Look/Act: As with the other signs, recognize them as potentially hazardous rather than rationalizing them away, and honestly express your concern, not once, but often, as it takes numerous displays of caring to get through to someone who may at this point be numb to it.
Finally, whether the depression is situational or caused by mental illness, suicide can be prevented with the right, and timely, treatment. Help your friend/loved one get it - do the research, go with him/her as long as s/he needs your support - and a life will be saved.
You have been officially alerted.