In 2017 at a nursing home, the Bay at Burlington, 77 year old Larry Anders moved in. He recently had lost his wife to stage 4 throat cancer. They were together for over 50 years.
Larry was only supposed to be at the nursing home for two weeks before he began his chemotherapy at his home. While staying at the nursing home his children noticed that the staff seemed to lack care for patients. His children would stay beside him frequently to help monitor him. Two days after Christmas, Larry killed himself and was found alone in his room. His children were shocked.
Today over 47,000 lives are taken in America to suicide. Many of the older adults that are in nursing homes, adult day cares, or assisted living centers are often overlooked. In a recent study nearly one senior per day dies from suicide. Tracking these suicides in long-term care can be challenging. There are no federal regulations that require states to report these deaths or how many people are ending their own lives in these homes and communities.
Even though these nursing homes and assisted living facilities are supervised seniors are still finding ways to take their own lives. From jumping out of windows, overdosing on pills, hanging themselves, or using a gun they are finding ways to do this.
In recent reports seniors were telling staff at nursing homes that they were feeling lonely or depressed. Many said that they felt like their family didn’t care for them anymore or that they abandoned them there. Some elders even would tell the staff that they had lived long enough or that they were too old to still be alive. State inspectors in some cases found that nursing homes were to blame for not reporting these suicidal warnings from these patients.
If you or someone you know has talked about contemplating suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, or use the online Lifeline Crisis Chat, both available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
People 60 and older can call the Institute on Aging’s 24-hour, toll-free Friendship Line at 800-971-0016. IOA also makes ongoing outreach calls to lonely older adults.
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