Why are so many over 60s dying by their own hand?

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Sadly there has been a steep rise in the number of middle-aged Australians committing suicide.

The Age reports that the national suicide rate is now at the highest level in over 13 years, raising to 12 per 100,00 people in 2014. This is the highest level recorded since 2001, when it was 12.6 per 100,000.

The Bureau of Statistics released the figures last night, which show that among those aged 55 to 64 suicide rates have surged by 54 per cent in only ten years, to 15.1 per 100,000.

Helen Christensen, director and chief scientist at the Black Dog Institute, says the predictors of suicide differ or men and women. “Men worry about money, supporting their families, being the breadwinner. Women worry about interpersonal problems, for example, family conflicts,” she says.

Pete Shmigel, chief executive at Lifeline, describes these suicide rates as a “national emergency”.

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He says that calls to the crisis support line have reached a record high of 1 million per year with more than 60 per cent of the callers being women, mostly middle-aged.

While this is a good indication that women are more likely to reach out for help when they need it, the numbers say, “that people are getting to us too late” Mr Shmigel says.

“We made it OK to start talking about mental health, but we’re still not giving people enough skills to become capable of preventing suicide.”

Board director at Suicide Prevention Australia, Alan Woodward, believes the rise in suicide among middle-aged women may be due to deteriorating quality of life, chronic health conditions and age-based discrimination.

“We need to listen, understand and respond to the insights that people who have experienced suicide and crisis have shared with us,” he says.

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What needs to be done? How can we help baby boomers struggling with mental health?

If you, or someone you may know is struggling with mental health please seek help. You can call Lifeline on: 13 11 14 or beyondblue: 1300 224 636.


Lifeline 13 11 14

beyondblue 1300 224 636