Oregon Ranks near Top in Suicides among Elderly

The Register Guard (Eugene, OR), March 7, 2005 | Go to article overview

Oregon Ranks near Top in Suicides among Elderly


Byline: THE HEALTH FILES By Tim Christie The Register-Guard

Much ink has been spilled over the suicide last month of gonzo journalist Hunter Thompson. At age 67, in the kitchen of his Colorado compound, he stuck a .45-caliber gun in his mouth and pulled the trigger.

Those who knew the hard-living, gun-loving Thompson, including his family, have said his violent, self-inflicted death came as no surprise, nor was it the result of chronic pain or depression.

"This is a triumph of his, not a desperate, tragic failure," his wife, Anita Thompson, told the Rocky Mountain News.

While Thompson was a true American iconoclast, his means of death exemplifies what public health and mental health officials say is a troubling, preventable trend in Oregon and across the country: Elder suicide.

The elderly - particularly older white men - have the highest suicide rates of any age group, by far. And Oregon has some of the highest elder suicide rates in the country.

Between 1999 and 2002, the rate of suicide among Oregonians 65 and older was 24 per 100,000 population, ranking sixth in the nation and 56 percent higher than the national average of 15.4 per 100,000.

In 2003, the suicide rate among Oregon men 65 and older was 38 per 100,000. By age 85, the rate jumped to 109 per 100,000.

Dr. Cliff Singer, a geriatric psychiatrist at Oregon Health & Science University, said it's not clear why older white men are more likely to succumb to suicide.

But the chronic illnesses that come with age often impair their ability to function in life, and that can lead to depression, he said.

"They become demoralized because they can't be as active and independent as they'd like to be," he said. "Demoralization can lead to depression and depression is a major risk factor for suicide."

Disability may hit older white males harder than other demographics, he said.

"This is a group that is more used to feeling like they had leadership roles in society and within their families," he said. "Now they feel emasculated and highly shamed by their physical frailty and functional decline. They cope with it less well than others."

Most of these men who kill themselves had recently visited a physician, Singer said.

"That tells you they are asking questions about their health and their prognosis," he said. "When they're told they have a chronic disabling condition for which perhaps only palliative care is available, they decide to end it."

Older white men are also more likely to succeed at suicide, Singer said. One of four attempts result in death, compared with one in 20 attempts among the general population.

"They tend to be nonambivalent and choose highly lethal means," he said.

Guns, in particular, are the means of choice. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Oregon Ranks near Top in Suicides among Elderly
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.