Doctor's office
Enter your doctor's name to get office information.
Find labs in your network
Enter your primary care doctor's name to find labs in your network.
Find urgent care centers in your network
Enter your primary care doctor's name to find urgent care centers in your network.
Verify your medical group

Refer to your insurance card or call your insurance provider to determine your medical group.

You can also search for your primary care doctor to find the medical group you and your doctor belong to.

Driving Directions
Update Information
Forgot Password

Please enter your e-mail address.

Sharp Health News

The warning signs of suicide in seniors

Nov. 6, 2019

The warning signs of suicide in seniors
Suicide can affect all people regardless of ethnicity, age or gender. However, suicide rates are the highest among older adults, and these numbers are on the rise.

Older adults make up 12% of the U.S. population but account for 18% of all suicides, according to the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy. And white men 85 years old or older are four times more likely to die by suicide than Americans in any other age group.

Norma Reggev, a licensed clinical social worker with the Sharp Senior Health Centers, shares risk factors and warning signs of suicide in older adults, and steps you or a loved one can take to stay safe.

Red flags
Depression is one of the leading risk factors of suicide in older adults. Often their depression is left undiagnosed or untreated. “Depression is not a normal part of aging. It is common to experience sadness, grief and response to loss, but persistent depression that significantly impacts a person’s ability to function is not typical,” says Reggev.

Suicidal thoughts in older adults can be linked to several important risk factors. These may include:
  • Depression
  • Substance abuse
  • Being divorced or widowed
  • Major changes in social roles (e.g., retirement)
  • The recent death of a loved one
  • Social isolation and loneliness
  • Feelings of loss of independence or a sense of purpose
  • Medical conditions that significantly limit functioning or life expectancy
  • Feelings of hopelessness or lack of interest in future plans
Many adults experience losses as they age, including spouses, family and friends who die, go to a nursing home or move away to live with family. “These losses, in addition to a decreased ability to perform daily activities, are factors that increase social isolation in older adults and can cultivate a sense of uselessness and helplessness,” says Reggev.

Suicide prevention
Prevention of suicide in seniors may require many strategies. An older adult can take several steps to reduce suicide risk and stay safe:
  • Talk to someone if they are struggling with depression
  • Join a support group if they have recently lost a spouse or had another major life event
  • Get out of the house and do something they enjoy
  • Engage in meaningful activities
  • Seek mental health and substance abuse services
  • Talk to their doctor
  • Have regular medical visits to manage an illness or alleviate pain
“It is important for friends and family members of older adults to recognize the warning signs, assess risk and take steps to help prevent an older adult from taking their own life,” says Reggev.

How to help
Suicide intervention must be aggressive. “Older adult suicides are often more planned, determined and fatal,” says Reggev. “It is important to focus prevention efforts on educating both the general public and seniors.”

Taking action at home
  • Check in on a loved one — visit them often and regularly
  • Lend an ear — take the time to talk to an older adult
  • Educate older adults on ways to develop skills in problem-solving, conflict resolution and coping with life’s problems
  • Dispose of out-of-date medications
Taking action in the community
  • Promote awareness that suicide in seniors is a public health problem that is preventable
  • Implement strategies to reduce the stigma associated with aging
  • Encourage home health aides and long-term care employees to become more aware of the signs of depression in older adult patients
  • Improve access to mental health, substance abuse and social services for older adults

Community resources
Resources are available for you or a loved one who may need to speak with someone.

Sharp Mesa Vista Hospital
If you or an older adult you love is dealing with suicidal thoughts, Sharp Mesa Vista can help. Learn more about mental health care for older adults at 858-836-8434.

988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline
For additional assistance, the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline is available 24 hours a day by calling or texting 988 from anywhere in the country.

The Friendship Line
Seniors and adults with disabilities can call this 24-hour, toll-free hotline at 800-971-0016. A trained volunteer who specializes in offering caring conversation with older adults can provide crisis intervention, information and referrals.

You might also like:

Choose the doctor who's right for you.

At Sharp, we make it easy to find an exceptional doctor — right where you live and work.

All Categories
Contact Sharp HealthCare
Call us

Call 1-800-827-4277 or view our detailed phone directory.

For medical or psychiatric emergencies, call 911 immediately.

Email us

Please do not use this form to convey personal or medical information.

How would you like to be contacted?
Date of birth

What's This?

These important numbers are located on your billing statement.

Find your Sharp Rees-Stealy account number

Find your SharpCare account number

Find your SharpCare account number
What's GDPR?

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) governs the processing of personal information gathered from individuals while they are in the European Union (EU) and parts of the EEA (European Economic Area, which currently includes Iceland, Lichtenstein and Norway).

We are sorry, but we are unable to process your price estimate if you live or are travelling within the EU or affiliated nations.

What's This?

Many surgery and procedure names sound similar. If possible, please provide the current procedure terminology (CPT) code, which can be found on the order from your doctor.

If you cannot provide the CPT code, please contact your doctor's office for the CPT or a detailed description of services.