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Suicide Rates on Rise – You Can Help

Category: Health and Wellness Issues

By Roberta Isleib, P.H.D. (aka Lucy Burdette)

June 16, 2018 — Putting my psychologist hat for a moment…we are hearing an awful lot about suicide these days, including the tragic deaths of celebrities Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain. For folks who haven’t felt seriously depressed or desperate, it may be hard to fathom thinking about killing yourself–and not considering the emotional destruction such an act leaves behind. But when folks feel that hopeless, suicide may seem like the only option. So what can we do to help?

Pay attention for signs of depression and suicide, including talk about feeling hopeless, changes in appetite or sleep habits, withdrawal and loss of interest in school, work, hobbies, friends, giving things away, preoccupation with death and dying…Even a sudden surge in energy and mood could mean that a very depressed person has concluded that suicide is the right solution.

If you see those signs, don’t hesitate to reach out. I taught this to my peer counselors at Yale: Don’t be afraid to ask directly: Are you feeling suicidal or thinking about harming yourself? If the answer is yes or maybe, get help! Call a family doctor for a referral or the suicide prevention hotline 800-273-8255

For further reading:
This New York Times article is very helpful
NIH Suicide Statistics

Comment: Retirement can be a stressful time. People who have a big piece of their identity wrapped up in their job may feel a big sense of loss. Men, who tend not to have strong personal relationships, may feel lonely and struggle. If someone you know looks like he or she needs need, reach out and tell him that you are there for him. That alone can help. If that someone in need is you – talk to someone!

Posted by Admin on June 15th, 2018


  1. This is right on. I retired two years ago and had plans to relocate to San Diego with my woman friend. Those plans fell apart and I have been struggling ever since, now getting worse. I see a counselor, I volunteer, I attend evening programs at 3 local libraries.
    But I am 66, man, alone, 17 years in this house solo, having no family and few friends. So now I despair.
    It’s a problem because I have badly wanted to relocate from Connecticut to someplace warmer in the winter, but not too hot or humid in the summer because I am very sun sensitive. I’m not motivated when I feel like this, to do anything
    related to moving.
    TG, money is not an issue, but most everything else is.
    Open to comments, and thanks for reading.

    by John A — June 16, 2018

  2. John you are still young. Make it happen!

    by Tomi Huntley — June 16, 2018

  3. John, As I was reading your post, my own feelings of the despair we feel in life emerged. The sad unanswered question haunts me: Is this all there is in life at my age? After having read it; it helped med to be more positive by trying to find answers for you. A first step to help with your lonesomeness; would be to rent a house in a 55 Community in Delaware or North Carolina. I think you will be able to interact with other: and even have some fun. I wish you much luck. Life can be fun. You have your health; which is so important. I suffer from chronic pain: so my options are quite limited.

    by Marianne — June 17, 2018

  4. If you are healthy enough to travel a bit, why not take a series of short trips to places south to check out a few areas; takes the pressure of trying to make a decision of where to move off. And single traveling can be enjoyable. You might even find that the hot and humid southeast is tolerable since everything is airconditioned. One other thought – when you do find an area to move to (or even if you decide to stay in Ct), DEF look into a 55+ community. You will be surrounded with peers who all have relocated from somewhere to the community so you will start right off having that in common with the new neighbors.

    by John — June 17, 2018

  5. John Adamian, your post haunts me a little — I’ve been there. Places within that there seems no way out. You are clearly working with yourself and others to get through — a needed component. Drawing from my own experience all I can add is the one thing that finally got me through the worst and has actually held up over time — do SOMETHING about about it. Folks have proposed some options, but the “something” comes from you. It’s just the “move” that helps start things rolling. Best of luck to you.

    by RichPB — June 17, 2018

  6. I hadn’t realized I gave my full name before…embarrassed!
    I appreciate your commentaries a lot.
    Marianne, I know you get it…thanks.
    And Rich, I know you are right.
    I’m hoping that a therapist I just started going to will help me get unstuck, because that
    is where I am presently.
    I am so appreciative for Top Retirement and the folks who make it what it is.

    by John A. — June 18, 2018

  7. Talk to your primary care physician about your state of mind. As a starting point I highly recommend a complete physical exam with full panel blood work The solution to a more positive outlook may not be as dark as it seems. Good luck moving forward.

    by Bubbajog — June 18, 2018

  8. Sometimes suggestions made are all well and good, but the person affected may feel paralyzed emotionally and unable to act. Seeking therapy may help, but taking action no matter how hard it is, can change ones perspective. Any step John A can make (once he has been checked out by his physician), would be a positive and it can be done slowly in baby steps. Find an activity where someone needs your help as a volunteer and you may feel better. Volunteer work really helps take the spotlight off of oneself and ones troubles. You can always find someone else who has worse problems. You can start by helping out at a church or with an organization that you are interested in. Soon you will make friends. You will get out of the house and not be focused on what you do not have and will most likely end up being thankful for what you do have in life. I know a woman who met her next husband by walking dogs for people who were too ill to go out…she got exercise and a new life. She was 80 at the time!

    by Jennifer — June 18, 2018

  9. For some people, talking about what they are feeling is as hopeless or more hopeless than the perception they have of their life situation. This may be especially pertinent for folks who have had “talk therapy” that didn’t accomplish anything. From their point of view, talk is not a useful option.

    by DanD — June 20, 2018

  10. I asked my doctor why he didn’t do “talk therapy”, and his response was that in his experience, a patient’s understanding of the problem did not necessarily bring about change. We’re complex critters and one solution doesn’t work for all.

    by ronp — June 21, 2018

  11. A number of medications, even those for things other than psych issues, list suicidal ideation as a side effect. Be sure to read ALL the literature that comes with meds and report any side effects to yout dr. (And if they brush it off, try another dr). Also, current research suggests that the microbiome in the gut might actually contribute to depression and anxiety. Anyone who feels a little off might want to make sure they eat lots of veggies and other fiber and try a good probiotic!

    by Jean — June 21, 2018

  12. This article from the NY Times has some good insights and suggestions on the issue of loneliness. Part of its thrust is that older adults can face additional isolation because of illness, mobility issues, hearing loss, or the stress of taking care of a loved one. The UnLonely Project is involved in creating and supporting programs to combat loneliness such as exercise and art classes. If all else fails, pick up the phone and call someone.

    by Admin — June 26, 2018

  13. Wasn’t sure where to put this comment, but I thought it might belong here. We all have our lists of things to consider when choosing a final retirement destination. Having available health care is usually on those lists/ Most retirement recommendations include making sure that your Will, health care power of attorney and other legal documents are in order and comply with the law of the state where you live. Many boomers might want to know the status of their state’s death with dignity laws when they are getting their legal documents in place. Boomers all have death sentences, after all — our own as well as our spouses and other loved ones — whether we want to think about it or not.

    Yesterday, Maine joined the states that are expected to have a death with dignity law. The Facebook group “Compassion & Choices” reported:

    BREAKING NEWS: The Maine Senate just voted 19 to 16 to PASS LD 1313, the Maine Death with Dignity Act! The bill returns to the House for enactment before moving to Governor Mills’s desk for consideration.

    Maine is one step closer to becoming the tenth jurisdiction in the nation to authorize medical aid in dying. These successes are a culmination of many years of work by grassroots advocates on the ground, led by Maine Death with Dignity’s Val Lovelace.

    by Kate — May 31, 2019

  14. Kate – thank you for that update on Maine status. IMO this is information which may be important to someone with a terminal illness.

    by JoannL — June 1, 2019

  15. John A would you update us if possible… thanks!

    by Tim — June 1, 2019

  16. Hi, I just saw Tim’s comment, so here I am.
    I honestly have done not so much since last June.
    What I have done is talk with people, and research different locales, including AZ and CA.
    I just can’t bring myself to going to these places alone.
    So I talk with as many as possible, seeking someone who may be willing to go, at least one or two
    of my destination candidates.
    I have tried three different therapists (not very helpful) and even tried medication, against my instinct. It has not helped but side effects NG.
    Part of me still considers staying here in CT, but the state’s financial disarray and the cold winters make me pause.
    Thanks for asking, Tim.

    by John A — June 2, 2019

  17. Tim, thanks for the request. Kate, thanks for bringing this back to the fore. John A, please let us know what’s going on. For good or back, those reading do care.

    by RichPB — June 2, 2019

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