Older people may be more likely to reveal that they have suicidal thoughts

One in four acknowledged the attempt in advance, which provides an opportunity for prevention, say researchers

Nearly a quarter of the elderly Americans who took their lives revealed their intentions to someone before doing so, according to a recent study.

The researchers reviewed the national data collected over 10 years and found that 23 percent of people aged 50 and over who took their lives had revealed their intention to commit suicide. The older they were, the more likely they were to make that revelation, the researchers found.

Any indication of suicidal thoughts is an opportunity for prevention, said lead researcher Namkee Choi, a professor of gerontology at the University of Texas at Austin.

Doctors and other professionals "should be better prepared to evaluate and help those who need it to prevent suicides," Choi said.

People with depression and health problems, and those who had recently received mental health care or treatment for drug or alcohol abuse, were also likely to say something before attempting suicide, the study found.

This revelation came most often to the intimate partner or another relative, the findings show. A smaller number of older adults who died of suicide had talked about it with a health care professional.

People who took their own lives with firearms or by hanging / asphyxiation were less likely to disclose their intentions in advance. Among those who used guns, it was more common for men to reveal their intentions than women, according to the report.

The study's findings were published Oct. 4 in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

"Depressive mood, health problems and other stressors were associated with a greater likelihood of revealing these intentions," Choi said in a news release. So "suicide could have been avoided by providing the necessary services to alleviate these problems," he suggested.

Source: American Journal of Preventive Medicine, news release, Oct. 4, 2017

Available at: https://medlineplus.gov/spanish/news/fullstory_168885.html