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

Sadly there has been a steep rise in the number of middle-aged Australians committing suicide. The Age reports that the national
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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”.

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.

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

  1. I can totally understand why. When you are lonely, and never see family. When you stay in bed as long as possible so the day isn’t so long to get through. When you see no one for weeks except when you go shopping. When your only companion is an old dog living on borrowed time. What’s to stay around for?

    • Bernadette Williams  

      This is me except I don’t have a dog. My family live in 3 states. My sons in two different states, one I may not see for a long long time because I can’t afford to go. The cost is too prohibited for a pensioner. It is made worse because I have just become a grandmother for the first time in last 2 years. When you see your grand children knowing the in laws more than you it hurts, sometimes I feel like taking my life. What do I achieve by doing this, just more pain for the family. I have done this in my late teens and lucky to be here. I refuse to get that low again. My answer to this loneliness is to get involved with life. Like joining singles club, U3a, book club at libraries and doing things I like, such Art on a regular basis. I tried volunteering as well and that helps. When I go shopping now I sometimes meet people I know, even calling shop assistants by their name makes a difference. Stop and think about it you shop at same place every week or so and meet the same workers, shouldn’t we not be on first name basi after years of shopping in these places.

  2. Joy Anne Bourke  

    Marjorie I partly agree, I have a 7 year old poodle so have the company. My eldest daughter cut me off from her and grandchildren 4 years ago and the sad thing is especially why it happened. I was told due to my drama and hurtful attacks. But its her drama and fighting all the time within that really upset me. Since she moved to Brisbane with me in 2002 I have nothing but trouble with her, got me into debt cause I believed her that she would pay me back, wrote off my car whilst I walked 3 klms to work. Never once said here mum I owe you this for the trouble I caused. Maybe lots of people in the same situation. But I hurt all the time, never any release even though I see psychologist. My youngest daughter has been marvellous since 2012 when I had a massive DVT with PE and nearly died and the older one would not even come to the hospital or see me, when she was told to take care of me after coming out of hospital, she dumped me and I had to move to Brisbane from Kingaroy for medical appts. I only moved up there in 2011 as they asked to and I was very happy. After what has happened I have been devastated. What do you do.

  3. It would seem to me that with our present Government touting all the cuts to Pension, Benefits, Pharmaceuticals, cheap housing – with the Nursing Homes cutting down their staff and programmes, while reaping huge financial profits, we don’t have a lot to look forward to. When we can no longer drive ourselves, and our children are busy working to keep their roofs above their heads, how do we get about to do the most basic things like shopping and appointments? Euthanasia seems to be the better option then – I bet the Government will be lining us up for it in 10 year’s time!

  4. Lynne Highfield  

    I believe one of the most common reasons for suicide – apart from chronic health problems – is existential angst, yet few among us even know the meaning of this term.

  5. John Brants  

    First things first.Author of this article needs to learn difference between raising and rising-see sentence 2.( Yes I know petty).
    Chronic pain for 36 years and then the debilitating effects of prostate cancer will encourage me to pusillanimity (yes I know ,I’m a PITA ) I’m looking at growing hemlock and foxglove plants as they have some interesting uses!
    ” existential angst” I can surmise at what that is having read Sartre and Camus >50 years ago.
    Thank you for that Lynne Highfield..
    All the best to those in pain .

  6. David Aitken  

    For many of us working folk, now at our early 60,s we were ordinary wage earners and self employed or small business people with little to no super or savings and everything invested into our mortgages and kids. We worked to hard and for to long to be the best providers and falsely believed that we would be able to retire comfortably. Broken marriages in our late 40’s rendered many us almost fiancially ruined, in many cases the family home was lost, never to be able to be bought again, or the ” buyout” to the the other half committed us to a killer debt brought about by the crazy prices of homes nowadays.
    Couple all this with everything you have done to help your kids, includeing very unwisely lending them money of which they consider they should never have to pay back and in most cases do not. With no conscience they live way beyond their means, they are totally irresponsibe when it comes to debt, them and their kids have to have everything, the latest and greatest.
    When we speak up , we become the enemy, we become excluded from their circle, because we DARE to ask to be helped or repaid what we have loaned.
    Now financially and emotionally wiped out, by your kids , poor work/ job prospects, reduced income lack of family and friends, living in an economy and where the cost of everything is almost out of control, pensions are not relevent to the cost of living, the government see’s you as a burden whilst it wastes money on refugee and foreign aid with no consideration for its own …….. THE OUTLOOK FOR MANY OF US IS ”BLEAK” many are driven to sucicide by what they see and feel as failure, somewhat helpless and a serious lack of any form of security in their coming years.

  7. luckyphill  

    I can relate to it very easy, as both Mum and Dad, wanted to die at home. The biggest issue for all who seek help, is that by the time it arrives, its to late. All the different assessments and referral process puts 99% of people off, fro getting it. And 9 times out of 10 they are told that the service is unavailable or they do not qualify. At least my parents died in peace where they wanted too. Right here at home.

  8. Sylvia Harvie  

    I agree with Majorie nd Joy, It is hard. My partner of 20 years died on 24rh September,2015 I watched him die an agonising death as some of you know. We had previously agreed to put our house up for sale and so he left 50% of our home to his children and 50% to myself. This was fine as at least I would have our home to grieve in until it sold. This was not the way it played out, the joke was on me. Long story short I was without my house, staying in my daughters garage until February, 2016 when she told me to f off as I was interfering with her plans to rent her big house out and my home was still not sold. I moved and stored what was left of my furniture and travelled up the coast to stay withmy niece, I am still here the house sold at auction for a good price last Saturday and I am off to stay with my cousin on the gold coast tomorrow. We are going to travel around and look at all of the over 50s villages for houses for sale. I will buy one of these and settle down at long last. AT 72 I am glad I survived and will enjoy every day of my life from there. I was lucky, suicide never was an option for me as I love living. Chin up lovely ladies it will be 7 months since my partner died when I move into my new home and if I can come through all this and more than so can you. My way through difficult times is ‘ I never let the turkeys get me down’ Have a great day. Sylvia

  9. Penny  

    Simple. The aged pension doesn’t allow a life at all, just an existence. No money for health insurance and long waits in public system.

  10. Serena  

    Yes I relate to most of these comments I sadly thought that my two daughters would be there for me the same way I was always involved with both my parents relishing in their company but it seems I just get some duty texts or if I am lucky phone calls very occasionally live 3 klms away from one and in 6 years of living in my new villa have had maybe 8 visits how sad and you are left with feeling very redundant and used but I do have two fur babies these days that give me a reason to get up each day they have brought so much love and joy into my life I bless each moment I spend with them God bless all animals so loving and unconditional

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