Ripped from the headlines: baby boomer suicides are up sharply in Minnesota.
More Minnesotans in their fifties and sixties are committing suicide, and it’s got to stop.
It’s a difficult subject; no one wants to admit they’re at risk, let alone get professional help. So it’s up to the rest of us to elevate the discussion.
It’s critical to do so because of the numbers. New data for Minnesota, released Aug. 30, show that suicides rose 13 percent from 2010 to 2011, to 684. That’s 12.4 suicides per 100,000 residents but the highest rate in Minnesota since the early 1990s and, put in perspective, much higher than the 368 traffic deaths recorded the same year.
The largest increases, by category, were for men ages 55-59 and seniors older than 65, which experts say may be a reflection of economic worries brought on by the Great Recession and the uncertainty of retirement. It wouldn’t surprise me if there were other contributing issues, including the growing number of baby boomers who are caring for aged parents.
I know boomers who have lost their jobs, or who suddenly realized that retirement is a lot farther off than they once expected. The worry and concern gnaw at them. Suddenly, the standard of living they obtained or simply wished for is slipping away.
So, for their sake, and ours, we need to talk about depression, suicide, and all the associated warning signs.
That’s what has been missing from the discussion, it seems to me. The higher rate of suicide among Minnesota baby boomers has made recent headlines, but too little of the media coverage has included the how-to-help advice we all need to hear.
To that end, what follows are the warning signs of suicide and what you should do if a loved one exhibits those signs. Watch your friends and family carefully. Let’s get help to those who need it. And, to hell with being stoic – this is a topic that needs to be discussed. Resolve to do so now.
The following 11 warning signs of suicide come via the Minnesota Department of Health. The more of these a person exhibits, the greater the risk.
- Talking about wanting to die.
- Looking for a way to kill oneself.
- Talking about feeling hopeless or having no purpose.
- Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain.
- Talking about being a burden to others.
- Increasing the use of alcohol or other drugs.
- Acting anxious, agitated or recklessly.
- Sleeping too little or too much.
- Withdrawing or feeling isolated.
- Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge.
- Displaying extreme mood swings.
WHAT TO DO
If you are concerned about a friend or loved one:
- Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
- Do not leave the person alone.
- Remove firearms, alcohol, drugs or sharp objects that could be used in a suicide attempt.
- Take the person to an emergency room or seek help from a medical or mental health professional.