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Suicide prevention project geared toward the elderly population Research Paper


Suicide is an aspect that is well known by people due to its prevalence. However, there is much to be discovered in regard to the issues that are associated with suicide. Suicide can be defined as the process through which an individual ends his or her life purposely or deliberately. There are various factors that could lead to suicide, for instance stress, depression and in most cases, mental illness.

Suicide is a concept that is viewed differently by various societies depending on their culture and religion. Most western cultures and Christianity for example perceive suicide to be a very negative concept that should always be avoided. Statistics show that in the United States of America, suicide is ranked as the fourth leading cause of deaths.

Although suicide cases are seen in individuals of all ages and family backgrounds, there are some groups of people who are more vulnerable than others (Holmes and Holmes, 2005). This piece of work gives an in depth discussion of the issue of suicide with much emphasis being given to the elderly and how suicide could be prevented in this section of the population.

The Problem Statement

The problem of discussion in this project is the issue of suicide among the elderly persons in the world and in the United States of America in particular. Depression is an alarming condition that has affected an estimate of 19million of the American population each year. Adults are the most affected. The conditions worsen among the elderly especially due to the fact that it is not usually easy to detect.

This is because the observed signs and symptoms with the elderly are usually confused or rather assumed for normal aging behavior. Research has showed that depression is a leading cause of suicide especially among the elderly and the fact that it is not easy to diagnose it makes it worse.

Over the past two decade, there has been an increase in the rate of suicide among the elderly. The elderly in the United States, those aged 65 years and above comprise a very small percentage of the whole population, only 13%. Despite this, they account for 20 percent of all the suicide deaths in the nation, which is an alarming number and hence the desire to carry out this project to help curb the problem.

The most notable factor that has been identified to be exacerbating this problem among the elderly in America is detection where the condition is noted at a very late stage. Fear of confronting the issue as a mental illness is also a contributing factor to this problem.

Most of the elderly people are not usually ready to visit mental health facilities for assistance and hence the stigma in them leads to acute depression which in turn increases the chances of contemplating and committing suicide (American Psychiatric Association, 1994). The project that I thought to be effective for this kind of problem is prevention and intervention oriented so as to come up with a long lasting solution to the problem.

Target Population, Stakeholders and Participants

The problem of suicide among the elderly has been very disturbing. For this reason, there ought to be strategic intervention and treatment measures established to curb this ordeal that is claiming a lot of lives and leaving others in devastating conditions.

To do this, an exhaustive research ought to be carried out, involving all the individuals deemed to be appropriate in regard to contributing relevant information about the elderly and suicide instances.

To come up with some informative and effective report in regard to the issue of suicide and how it could be prevented among the elderly, some individuals and groups of people ought to be involved.

The target population will be men and women age of 65 years and above. Some of the other stakeholders and participants include the caregivers either at home or in the homes for the elderly, the relatives as well as medical practitioners that that are charged with the responsibility of dealing with emergency health issues such as suicide.

Data Collection and Analysis Methods

Data collection is a critical and sensitive aspect that requires some technical skills to allow for success in the process. It entails the practice of preparing and collecting information related to a certain aspect for different purposes for instance to carry out a certain project or to improve an already ongoing process.

Data collection is intended to get relevant information that is used in making decisions and conclusions in regard to a certain topic of study (Sekaran, 2003). Data collection ought to be very objective for there to be informative and relevant data.

Objectivity is however undermined by the human nature of biasness. Sampling is usually a good data collection method but only when used effectively. In order to achieve a high degree objectiveness, the sample should be as representative of the total population as possible

In this study, a field research will be conducted where by information will be retrieved from various sources. This data will be useful in answering of the research question. Field data will be retrieved from a number of sources. Both primary as well as the secondary sources will be collected.

This will include visiting the elderly in their homes as well as in the homes for the elderly and taking notes on the information given by the elders, the caregivers as well as the medical practitioners who provide medical services to the elderly.

This will be very important in getting first hand information. It will also be important in enhancing the profitability of the data collected first hand. Important information will also be retrieved from the official documents from the nation’s health centers. Structured questionnaires will also be useful in collection of the necessary data.

This method of data collection will be very helpful in collecting qualitative data from the selected sample from the population. However, this will be done with a lot care to avoid any negative feedback since the respondents in this case may be tempted to exaggerate the information they give to favor themselves.

Data collection through interview will be conducted through face to face interaction with the respondents. This is where the respondents will be asked questions by the interviewer. In this case, the interviewer will read the questionnaire to the respondent and then record what they respond.

In data analysis, the data collected will be both qualitative and quantitative types of data. This data will be collected through interviews as well as the relevant reports. The main aim of the research in this case will be identification of the suicide prevention measures.

This will be done by analyzing the information retrieved from different individuals. Data from different sources will help in identification of the problems in specific areas. This will help in identification of particular areas which needs immediate reforms.

There are several methods which will be applied in data analysis. This analysis will include a precise documentation of the field data. The researcher will collect data from various sources. Then this data will be compiled and compared. It is therefore advisable for the researchers to ensure that the data collected is precise.

The data collected from interviews and reports will also be examined at this stage. In this process, certain patterns will be identified as well as connections and similarities. This analysis will also identify any deviation from what is expected. Here, the researcher will therefore be able to identify some critical areas which need urgent changes in regard to preventing suicide among the elderly (Burns, 2000).

Interventions and Treatment to the Problem

From the above description of the problem of suicide among the elderly in America, it is evident that the issue is alarming thus necessitating some intervention and treatment measures to curb this ordeal that is claiming a lot of lives and leaving others in devastating conditions.

To come up with effective intervention and treatment measures, it is advisable to look at the root causes of suicidal cases so as to be able to handle them effectively. This will enable for preventive measures to be applied where the condition has not been experienced and proper treatment when the conditions that may facilitate suicide have already occurred.

From the data collected from the different participants using the various data collection methods and review of different literature on the topic, I noted that the identification of whether an individual is actually suicidal is a difficult task not only to a lay person but also to the trained professionals. It is however a greater challenge to those with less training and experience.

The following are some of the circumstances that may contribute to higher risks of an elderly person to commit suicide:

Financial crisis hence inability to live the desired life, depression, alcohol abuse, isolation which could be social, emotional or physical, the feeling of helplessness and hopelessness, loss of stature of the elderly in the family or society due to old age, some losses of either a spouse, a pet or a loved one, having life threatening or terminal disease and loneliness and inability to put up with it.

Other factors that may exacerbate the risk of suicide among the elderly include excessive pain that could be as a result of a disease where the elderly prefer death to unending suffering, loss of independence and immobility where their movement and course of actions are restricted and observed, and lack of employment among others.

Some medications can also cause symptoms of depression which may in turn cause suicide. They include hormones medication, steroids medication, blood pressure medication as well as arthritis medication (Ebersole, Hess and Luggen, 2004).

Among the warning signs that a person could identify in suicidal elderly people include frequent statements about death and suicide, social withdrawals and a tendency to say goodbyes, instances of writing and revising a will, taking some medications without prescriptions, being careless on some issues and failure to follow the orders given by medical personnel, interruption of sleep patterns, having some interests in firearms which was initially absent, giving suicide threats, having increased interests on death related issues and expressing hopelessness and helplessness in their talks and actions (Evans and Radunovich, 2009).

The knowledge of the above mentioned signs, symptoms and warning signs is very helpful in the event of being prepared and taking appropriate measures to prevent the issue of suicide among the elderly people.

According to Goldsmith et al. (2002), some of the intervention and treatment measures that could be taken on the elderly to reduce instances of suicide include as simple as being a helping element to the elderly.

One can offer help to elderly people who are contemplating suicide through various means for instance being alert to identify the common risk factors and warning signs associated with suicide and identifying and consulting health and medical practitioners in the society who may offer assistance when needed.

Another possible way is talking openly to a trusted person about your concerns in respect to a certain behavior exhibited by an elderly person under your care. This last step is usually assumed to be useless but in the real sense, it helps greatly by raising ideas that could help deal with the situation appropriately.

Cognitive therapy is a psychotherapy that is recommended as a treatment for suicide related syndrome. Clozapine medication also prevents suicide among people with schizophrenia (Brown, 2011).

Project Goals, Their Assessment and Action Plan

Every project is usually carried out with some aims and objectives. Some of the projects are aimed at coming up with preventive, intervention or consultation measures in regard to a specific topic or problem issue. For the sake of this assignment, the project is aimed at coming up with all possible suicide preventive measures in an effort to saving the population’s lives more especially the elderly people.

The goals will be assessed through looking at the progress of the action plan. After the preventive and treatment measures are identified and analyzed, there is need to take action or else to implement the recommendations.

There are various ways through which the project’s results could be implemented, for instance, through taking a number of elderly people who are identified to be at risk of committing suicide and taking the advocated measures to see the difference that could be experienced under controlled situations and measures.

Challenges and Strategies to Address Them

Projects are associated with a lot of challenges in their implementation depending on the situations surrounding the implementation. The project of study is not an exception and there are challenges in the implementation of the identified measures and strategies. However, the challenges have to be addressed in an appropriate manner that fosters success.

Some of the challenges that could be faced include problems in the collection of data where some respondents may not be willing to give adequate and appropriate information. Another challenge is lack of cooperation of the responsible bodies in delivering the changes advocated for, for instance, the elderly and the caregivers.

The challenges could be handled through assuring the respondents that the information they provide will be treated in a confidential manner and teaching all the responsible people on the importance of life and hence that of preventing any suicidal cases.

Impact of the Project on Social Change

The project of study is meant to be a positive element which is supposed to help in bringing significant changes in regard to what should be done on the aspect of suicide among people in the United States of America and the elderly in particular. The fact that suicide could be viewed in a social perspective is a justification that this project should contribute positively to social change.

Some of the social aspects associated with suicide include pressures, excessive suffering and fear which are difficult to deal with, depression as well as social and mental disorder. In some instances, suicide attempt can be seen as an act of seeking help and attention, an expression of desperation and thus using suicide as a way to escape as opposed to a desire to die.

This therefore follows that in case a solution could be offered to the elderly and other people who are at a risk of contemplating suicide; there is a very high chance of change of intention, from death to life. This is because no one wishes to die whenever there is a chance of having a good life (National Institute of Mental Health, 2000).

In regard to social change, this project will change the society’s perception in regard to the issue of suicide. It will for example help them to be more prepared to prevent and deal with issues related to suicide among the elderly through the understanding of the warning signs as well as the symptoms associated with the suicidal elderly.

People will also be able to handle the elderly in an appropriate manner having the understanding that they are a vulnerable group that require care, for instance, through provision of company to avoid loneliness, provision of encouragement and motivation of a brighter tomorrow to avoid the feeling of hopelessness and helplessness and provision of the necessities and basic needs to avoid them to wish that they would afford some items, an aspect that could contribute to depression and hence suicidal behavior.

The elderly should also not be left to live alone since this may encourage suicide as they fail to see the meaning of life especially after comparing their earlier lives when they were independent and mobile and when they are elderly and hence incapacitated. This may lead to a feeling of regret and they may also feel rejected and hence contemplate suicide as a way of escaping the reality (Dougherty, 2008).


It is evident that suicide is a chief public health problem that claims a significant number of lives, the young and the elderly, each day in the United States of America and the world at large. Unsuccessful suicide attempts are also experienced in a high rate. For this reason, there is dire need for preventive and curative measures in an effort to minimize the instances of suicide as well as attempted suicide.

There are various factors that have been attributed to be the cause of suicide for instance hopelessness, loneliness, stress and depression as well as mental illness among others. Preventive measures should therefore be directed towards solving the root causes of suicide other than the signs and symptoms of suicide since as the saying goes, prevention is better than cure.

Reference List

American Psychiatric Association. (1994). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. 4th Ed. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association.

Brown. K. (2011). In Suicide Prevention: Seniors In Houston Are A Forgotten Population. Web.

Burns, R.B. (2000). Introduction to Research Methods. London: Sage.

Dougherty, M.A. (2008). Psychological Consultation and Collaboration in School and Community Settings. Belmont, CA: Thomson Brooks/Cole.

Ebersole, P, Hess, A.P and Luggen, S.A (2004).Toward Healthy Aging: Human Needs and Nursing Response.6th ed. USA: Elsevier Health Sciences.

Evans, D.G., and Radunovich, L.H. (2009). . Web.

Goldsmith, K.S. et al. (2002). Reducing Suicide: A National Imperative. New York: National Academies Press.

Holmes, M.R. and Holmes, T.S. (2005). Suicide: Theory, Practice, and Investigation. New York: SAGE.

.(2000). Older adults: Depression and suicide facts. Science on Our Minds Series. Web.

Sekaran, U. (2003). Research Methods for Business: A Skill-Building Approach. 4th Ed. New York, NY: John Wiley & Sons.

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