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Suicide risk: Older men are particularly at risk of suicide
Around 10,000 people take their own lives in Germany each year. The risk of suicide increases with age. The danger is particularly great among older men. According to experts, simple measures could help to dissuade those at risk from their plan.
Around 10,000 suicides annually in Germany
According to a report by the World Health Organization (WHO), suicide occurs every 40 seconds worldwide. In Germany alone, around 10,000 people commit suicide every year. About 70 percent of them are men. The risk of suicide increases with age. "The average age of a person who has died as a result of suicide is around 57 years - and the trend is rising," reports the German Society for Suicide Prevention (DGS) on its website. The DGS autumn conference took place in Hamburg on the weekend.
Suicide rates significantly higher in older men
"Suicide bears the hallmarks of old age. The highest suicide rates are for those over 65, ”says the invitation to the DGS annual conference.
According to the DGS, 35 percent of suicides are committed by people over 65 years of age. The age group therefore accounts for 21 percent of the total population.
According to the Federal Statistical Office, a total of 1,065 women and 2,715 men over 65 years ended their lives in 2015.
"The suicide rates of the very old men are up to five times higher than the average of the normal population," conference leader Lindner told the German Press Agency.
Every year, twelve out of every 100,000 people commit suicide; around 60 for men over 80.
Pay better for psychotherapeutic offers
According to the experts, nothing has changed in this development in recent years. However, Lindner said in the dpa report: "This is something we cannot accept."
The expert called for psychotherapeutic training for employees in geriatric medicine facilities.
According to the information, studies showed that patients talked more and more openly to trained staff about their hardships and depression. The inconspicuous signals from the patients would also have to be recognized.
According to Lindner, psychotherapeutic offers should also be better paid for.
Lonely and alcohol-dependent seniors are particularly at risk
According to Lindner, very old men are particularly at risk because they cannot find their way into helping structures.
“When you think about ending your life, the old men in particular are a group that is hardly looking for help. They don't even go to the family doctor, ”says the aged psychotherapist according to dpa.
According to the DGS, the risk is particularly great if the seniors are lonely or dependent on alcohol.
And according to the DGS, those affected often find it difficult to talk to their doctor or therapist about their suicidal thoughts while treating a disease such as depression.
Studies have shown that people who have completed suicide have seen a doctor much more often than usual, but the risk of suicide was not recognized.
"Often the fear is not to be taken seriously, to lose social contacts, to be described as mentally ill and to lose autonomy through forced treatment," writes the DGS.
Suicide prevention measures
The geriatrician also criticized the public discussion about euthanasia. "The plight of people who want to commit suicide assisted should really alarm us as helpers," said Lindner.
According to the press agency, he advocated getting away from a "flat discussion of a concept of freedom" and rather discussing how people are actually doing, "who are so desperate that even in old age they have no other idea but to end their lives put".
The help could consist of simple things, for example in what is known as "awareness".
In the clinic where Lindner works, the Albertinen House in Hamburg, it is customary to call patients with a tendency to commit suicide at regular intervals after their discharge.
He says he does this himself and can, for example, arrange therapy or help the patient in another way. "None of the called parties has hung up so far," said the senior doctor.
In addition to the respective treatment options for people at risk, there are other measures that can help prevent suicides.
"One of the most effective means - as far as possible - is the restriction of the availability of suicide methods (e.g. weapons, medication, chemicals, protection of buildings)", said the DGS.
Last but not least, it is also about creating a social climate in which the suicide problem is perceived and taken seriously. (ad)