Case Studies: A Conversation About Older Adult Suicide Teaser - OC87 Recovery Diaries

Case Studies: A Conversation About Older Adult Suicide Teaser

by

“If there are two things that Americans are afraid of, it’s being old and death. Those are two things that we don’t talk about in any context. I mean, you put them both in one conversation and that is a conversation we are not going to have,” says psychotherapist Bianca O’Connor McDermott, LPC.

OC87 Recovery Diaries is ready to have this conversation. To that end, we are creating a series that examines the difficult topic of suicide among older adults. Case Studies: A Conversation about Older Adult Suicide features commentary from mental health professionals and case studies used by mental health professionals to promote awareness about this significant public health issue.

The facts about older adult suicide in the U.S. are sobering:

  • While older adults comprise just 16.8% of the population, they make up approximately 22% of suicides.
  • In 2022, among the nearly 49,449 suicides that took place in the U.S., 10,433 were attributed to people age 65 and up.
  • Men age 75 and older face the highest overall rate of suicide.

(these facts about older adult suicide, and others mentioned in this post, can be found on the National Council of Aging’s website)​

Suicidal behavior is common in older adults for a number of reasons, including loneliness, grief over lost loved ones, loss of self-sufficiency, chronic illness and pain, cognitive impairment and financial troubles.

According to the National Council on Aging, the physical, emotional, and cognitive struggles faced by older adults can lead to feelings of depression, which over time can evolve into clinical depression.

While most people with clinical depression do not take their own lives, having major depression does increase the risk. Among older adults in particular, suicide is a significant concern.

The still frames presented here are from one of the animated case studies in our series. The case studies are used by mental health professionals in presentations to promote understanding and awareness about this significant public health issue. These are stories taken from real life and present startling truths about older adult suicide, as well as raise important questions that we need to ask ourselves as we wrestle with this difficult topic.

“If we can just start talking about this, normalize it, make it everybody’s problem and not some other issue that those poor people are dealing with. But something that could happen to any of us, could happen to any of our parents, could happen to any of our neighbors.

The fact that I’ve been invited to talk to you about it gives me hope because there’s a conversation happening and that’s how these things start.”

— Bianca O’Connor McDermott, LPC

We invite you to join the conversation and would love to know your stories, your thoughts on this topic. Please comment on this post if you feel comfortable sharing.

The 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline outlines five action steps that you can take if you know an older adult who is thinking about suicide.

 

If you or someone you know may be in crisis or considering suicide, please call, text, or chat the Suicide & Crisis Lifeline at 988.

 

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR: Gabriel Nathan | EDITOR: Glenn Holsten | DESIGN: Leah Alexandra Goldstein | SITE ORIGINATOR: Bud Clayman

Glenn is an award-winning director who loves to create compelling documentary story experiences of all lengths for screens of all sizes. He is an avid reader, studied literature in college, and his passion for stories with strong characters and interesting narratives stems from those years. His career as a visual storyteller began at WHYY (the public television station in Philadelphia) where he worked for 15 years before becoming an independent filmmaker. In addition to his PBS documentaries about arts and culture, he has directed films about justice and human rights, and now, mental health. He was emboldened to undertake his current documentary project, Hollywood Beauty Salon, a colorful feature-length documentary about surviving mental illness and finding the courage for recovery, after his transformative experience directing OC87: The Obsessive Compulsive, Major Depression, Bipolar, Asperger’s Movie, along with Bud Clayman and Scott Johnston.