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"The Healthy Geezer" answers questions about health and aging in his weekly column.
Question: What causes suicidal feelings in older people?
Answer: Depression is usually associated with suicide in older adults. While feeling blue occasionally is a normal part of living at any age, unrelenting depression isn't normal.
More than 90 percent of people who kill themselves are suffering from a brain illness and substance abuse problems. Yes, that's right, a "brain illness." The brain is an organ just like the heart. When the brain becomes ill, it can make you depressed and anxious.
Suicide is often a last-ditch attempt to relieve the pain of depression, which can cause powerful feelings of despair and self-doubt. If ignored, these feelings can trigger self-destructive thoughts that can lead to suicide.
If you have these thoughts, seek help immediately. It is important to understand that suicidal thoughts are treatable. Don’t let fear or embarrassment stop you from seeking help from your physician, therapist, family, or friends.
Avoid being alone when you feel horrible, and stay away from drugs and alcohol. Many suicides are caused by uncontrolled impulses, and drugs and alcohol can make you more impulsive.
Make sure you don't have access to anything you could use to hurt yourself. Have someone hold onto your car keys when you are feeling suicidal. Throw away all unused medications.
How can you tell if someone you know is at risk for committing suicide? Here are some indications that should be considered seriously:
If you encounter someone who is suicidal, mental health professionals have the following suggestions:
If you would like to read more columns, you can order a copy of "How to be a Healthy Geezer" at www.healthygeezer.com.
All Rights Reserved © 2013 by Fred Cicetti