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Prevention Strategies

Prevention strategies should follow the most potent risk factor findings. Since the majority of older adults use firearms as a means of suicide, some have proposed that reduction in access to firearms may be an effective, preventive measure. However, others have argued that substitution in suicide methods may minimize the potency of this prevention approach (1990).

Research findings of increases in intent with age suggest that older persons who are at risk for suicide may be more difficult to identify as being at imminent risk than is the case for younger persons. Thus, clinical intervention strategies that target individuals who are at high risk for suicide, as indicated by a variety of demographic and psychiatric variables, may be more effective for preventing suicide than interventions that solely target individuals with suicide ideation or behavior. The fact that the majority of older adults are seen in primary care settings within the month of their deaths, coupled with the finding that most later life suicide victims have had a late onset, depressive episode, suggests that detecting and treating depression in primary care may be an efficient way to prevent later life suicides.

Although the identification and adequate treatment of depression is proposed as the most promising research avenue when considering preventive interventions in late life suicide, there are a number of factors that work against these prevention efforts. Ageism works against out-reach efforts. Many health providers, family members, and older adults themselves believe that depression and suicidal ideation are part of the normal aging process. Prevention efforts will need to consider these issues in public education and provider training to advance efforts in increased detection and treatment of depression.



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Additional topics

Medicine EncyclopediaAging Healthy - Part 4Suicide - Demographic Correlates And Methods Of Later Life Suicide, Psychological Status And Life Events Associated With Later Life Suicide