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Suicide in the Elderly

Although they don’t seem like likely candidates, and although the myth persists that suicide is most common among the young, the elderly have the highest suicide rates of any age group.

Even though in 2006 the elderly (we’re starting with 65+ here) made up 12.5% of the population, they accounted for almost 15.9% of all suicides.

The rates begin to increase in a group rather endearingly referred to as the ‘young-old,’ ages 65-85, and continues to increase among the (what else?) ‘old-old,’ at 85+.

White men over 85 are the greatest risk of all age-gender-race groups. In 2006 their suicide rate was 2.5 times the rate for men of all ages, and was six times that of the general population.

There were 15 suicides a day among the elderly in 2007, which added up to 5,475 a year. But the numbers were even higher in 2010, with a total of six to ten thousand committing suicide yearly, the vast majority with firearms.

Take a look at this infographic to help you get your head around these numbers.

Infographic Source: Rhona Finkel

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