Earlier this month, the Suicide Prevention Action Network (SPAN USA) was host to a webinar, “Suicide in Older Adults,” featuring presentations by Dr. Carol Podgorski, Department of Psychiatry at the University of Rochester School of Medicine, and Linda Shumaker, executive director of the Pennsylvania Behavioral Health and Aging Coalition.
SPAN USA is making the two presentations and the webinar audio recording available on its website, and they may also be downloaded at the links below.
Dr. Carol Podgorski’s presentation uses the suicide of inventor and entrepreneur George Eastman as a backdrop for telling the story of elderly suicide in the United States, which is more prevalent than most people realize:
- In 2004, 6,860 Americans over the age of 60 died by suicide
- Elderly accounted for 12.4% of [the] population yet 16% of all suicides …
- There were approximately 14 elderly suicides per day (1 older adult
takes his own life every 100 minutes)
Linda Shumaker’s presentation summarizes the Pennsylvania Older Adult Suicide Prevention Strategy, which is designed as a “model for communities and institutions” that is “comprehensive enough so groups and individuals can select objective and activities that best correspond to their responsibilities and resources” in order “to empower groups and individuals to work together in broad support and collaboration.”
The two presenters are followed in the webinar’s audio recording by a survivor’s perspective from Heidi Bryan, director of Feeling Blue Suicide Prevention Council. Bryan, a survivor of her brother’s suicide when he was in middle age, also lost a cousin in his 70s and an uncle in his 90s as well as a neighbor in his 60s:
As far as I’m concerned, suicide is suicide, and it’s devastating no matter what the age, and it affects you no matter what the age. I think of these people a lot. I think of my cousin a lot, what he missed. He had lots of years ahead of him …
The recording concludes with a 20-minute question-and-answer session with the national audience that attended the webinar live on Dec. 1.
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[The abridged URL for this post is http://tinyurl.com/ElderlySuicide .]