July 4, 2018 – Aging and Suicide Risk

June 30, 2018

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Anchor lead: What factors lead to suicide among older people? Elizabeth Tracey reports

Depression in older people is more difficult to treat and lasts longer than in younger people, a recent study reports. Karen Swartz, a psychiatrist and depression expert at Johns Hopkins, says the constellation of factors surrounding aging may be the culprit.

Swartz: As you become more frail, the work it takes to get out and see people is greater, and so unless you are lucky to have a wonderful social network isolation I think is something that most older individuals are fighting against or trying to figure out how to manage. That has a negative impact. We accumulate medical problems. Things just get harder and if you combine some hypertension and diabetes and some mobility problems with slight changes in your memory its very hard to get out and do things in the way that you used to.  :30

Swartz says recent reports of increasing suicidality among this age group are especially troubling, and notes that since older folks interact with primary care physicians most often, educating these clinicians in screening and management is key. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.

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