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Warning Signs of Suicide in Older Adults

Warning Signs of Suicide in Older Adults

Topic Overview

Suicide rates increase with age and are highest among white men age 65 and older. Divorced and widowed men in this age group have the highest suicide rates, and their most common method of suicide is firearms.

The following warning signs may be present in older adults who have a high risk for suicide:

  • Depression. Older adults have higher rates of depression than the general population.
  • Other mental health problem, such as severe anxiety, bipolar disorder (manic-depressive illness), or schizophrenia
  • Alcohol or substance abuse
  • Being alone for long periods of time (social isolation)
  • Being preoccupied with death in conversations
  • The diagnosis of a serious physical illness
  • Recent life change, such as the death or chronic illness of a spouse or child, retirement, or financial problems
  • Physical disabilities

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued an advisory on antidepressant medicines and the risk of suicide. Talk to your doctor about these possible side effects and the warning signs of suicide.

Take any mention of suicide seriously. If someone you know is threatening to commit suicide, get help right away. To learn more, see Suicidal Thoughts or Threats.

Related Information

Credits

ByHealthwise Staff
William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
David Messenger, MD
Last RevisedOctober 17, 2013

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.

© 1995-2014 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.

Last modified on: 2 April 2014


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