elderly people make up about 10-13% of the U. S. population. To many people, growing old is something that is suppose to be a time of serenity, relaxing and enjoying life. Even though this is what retirement is about, a lot of elderly people do not get to enjoy a carefree life after retirement.
People who are older have things to worry about just like everyone else. Elderly people make up 13% of the population, but account for 25% of all suicides. Also, as many as 75% of depressed older Americans are not receiving the proper care for their conditions. Older people are also usually more serious about suicide than any other group. Firearms account for 71% of the suicides. First, many elderly people have an illness or complication that they have to take care of and address.
Elderly people have to pay for a lot of different medications and pills. Some older people do not have insurance or Medicare and are paying extremely high cost for medication. A study done by Families USA found that the cost per prescription for seniors rose by 48% ($28. 50-$42. 00) between 1992 and 2000 and is expected to rise an additional 72% by 2010 (Schultz 2001).
Why do people attempt suicide? People usually attempt suicide to block unbearable emotional pain, which is caused by a wide variety of problems. It is often a cry for help. A person attempting suicide is often so distressed that they are unable to see that they have other options. Suicidal people often feel terribly isolated because of their distress, they may not think of anyone they can turn to, ...
Drug companies say that they must charge high prices for new drugs and boost prices for existing ones because research costs keep rising (Schultz 2001).
With these illnesses and other complications some seniors may experience different levels of depression. Suicide, especially among seniors is a killer. At any given time, 15% of people over 65 have significant depression (Harvard Mental Health Letter).
Some risk factors of suicide are heredity, chronic stress, drug and alcohol abuse-old age often adds chronic illness, disability and especially the loss of a life partner (Harvard Health Letter).
White men over the age of 50, who make up 10% of the population, make up 30% of the suicides.
An autopsy done to 80 people who completed suicide showed that the average at the suicide was 68 and that over 50% of the people had a history of depression (Harvard Mental Health Letter May 2003).
With all these different factors that promote suicide, seniors are paying to get prescription drugs to treat depression and other psychopathic drugs. More than half of men who kill themselves after killing their wives showed evidence of psychopathology. 61% showed evidence of at least 1 bychiatric symptom, usually depression. Only 5% were being treated for it (Moon, M. ).
This shows that not all people are recognizing the symptoms of depression. Symptoms of depression include: symptoms of insomnia, lack of interest in things, feelings of guilt, lack of energy, lack of concentration, lack of appetite, psychomotor changes, and thoughts of suicide (Geriatrics Dec 2000).
In one study of patients with major depression who had completed suicide, 6% had been to a medical health professional in the past 6 months, 20% had seen a primary care physician within one day, 40% within one week, 70% within 1 month and 90% within 3 months (Geriatrics Dec 2000).
Many people over look the symptoms because they think it is just part of old age.
Another factor that influences suicide is prescription drugs themselves. Older people usually absorb and eliminate drugs more slowly and are more sensitive to side effects. And because they may have other chronic illnesses or physical problems, they take other medications. This increases the chance of interactions (Harvard Mental Health Letter Sep 2003).
Teen suicide is no longer a rare thing; it occurs much more often now. So often that it is now the third leading cause of death for 15-to-24-year-olds, and the sixth leading cause of death for 5-to-14-year-olds. Each year 500, 000 teens try killing themselves, 500 succeed. Every hour and forty-five minutes another young person commits suicide. Suicide in the teen years increases because there is ...
As many as 40% of older people taking anti-depressants quit or repeatedly miss doses because of different side effects, memory problems or difficulty keeping track of all their different medications (Harvard Mental Health Letter Sep 2003).
Another contributing factor is social isolation. This in turn causes increase risk of depression. America is an increasingly mobile society. Grown Children often get better jobs then they did in the past and move away from home to pursue different and better ways of life. One consequence of this is that older people increasingly live farther away from their kids and grand kids (CHRC Newsletter Fall 2000).
This may cause feelings of despair and loneliness. Among all of these factors, one less evident one is one that people might overlook. With all the advancements in medical technologies, people are living longer than ever. So with that, people are taking more and more medications that are pricier than ever.
As stated earlier, prices for prescription drug costs are expected to stay on the rise through the next 7 years. Elderly people are trying to find more and more ways to be able to pay for their prescription drugs. People can’t count on benefits as much as they could 9 years ago. From 1994 through 2000, big employers offered 16% less health benefits (Glickman 2001).
People of age, are also going to greater extremes to get cheaper drugs. In Canada prices are a lot cheaper than what they are in the U. S. For this reason elderly people go to Canada to buy their prescription drugs.
There are buses that take group of seniors across the border to go and get their prescriptions. Among drugs that suicidal seniors had been on, anti-depressants had been a very common one. Also many people who had committed suicide had not took their medication within the previous days. I don’t know what the reason for that is. Maybe they couldn’t afford to buy their prescription that week.
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Or maybe they purposely did not take their medication. Also, another factor is the astonishingly high rate of elderly suicide is the mis- diagnosis of depression among seniors. Reasons for this is because doctor used to diagnose this as a “normal reaction to getting old.” (Segal, CHRC Newsletter).
But certainly aging can be difficult. Seniors are not as apt to come out and say that they are feeling depressed. Older people also do not always look or act sad as many teens or adults do.
Instead they might seem preoccupied, un reactive and indifferent to activities. Also, a lose in interest of hobbies that one used to do. I think that the price of prescription drugs has a definite affect on the suicide rates among the elderly. Although it may not be as direct as some of the other causes, I think it is still substantial.
If seniors can afford the medication they need, especially with depression, they are more likely to take it. If it is very expensive and they can not afford it, then they are less likely to take it. This makes for a higher chance of suicide.