Suicide prevention is essential at any age, and even more so for older adults —a group that is more vulnerable and at higher risk.

Suicide rates increase with age, with older adults being one of the populations with high suicide rates. However, death by suicide occurs in practically all generations beginning in adolescence.

The most common causes are depression, severe anxiety, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, social isolation, feelings of rejection, or the diagnosis of a serious illness. A person may consider suicide to be their only means of escaping their physical or mental pain and suffering.

People who are thinking of suicide often show certain signs before attempting suicide. Some of the things to watch for include isolating from family or friends, talking about death or suicide or saying they would be better off dead, drastic mood changes, saying their final goodbyes to loved ones, getting their affairs in order, posting content on social media that suggests they’re having suicidal thoughts, excessive consumption of drugs or alcohol, or feeling like a burden to others. This last one could happen if they lost their job, had an accident, have a debilitating disease, or had to move in permanently with a family member.

If you notice these warning signals, do not hesitate to take action. You can help by offering emotional support or getting them the help, they need. Use neutral, objective and stigma-free words that do not embarrass or show that you are judging the person.

It is important that you immediately do the following:

  • Contact a family member or their doctor.
  • Limit their access to medications, weapons, and alcohol.
  • Make sure the person is always accompanied.
  • Talk to them about the value of life.
  • Encourage them to socialize and, if they are physically able, to exercise. 

But before reaching this point, we recommend talking openly about suicide if you have noticed any signs. We suggest doing this in private, where the person can feel free to speak their mind without fear of anyone overhearing the conversation. Keep the conversation simple and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Stay calm and avoid coming across as angry. Offer your support and care. Be prepared to listen to difficult stories.

Suicide can be prevented. If you feel overwhelmed with thoughts of taking your own life or you believe someone is at risk, immediately call:

  • Línea PAS 1-800-981-0023, a crisis prevention hotline from the Administration of Mental Health and Anti-Addiction Services
  • Your health insurance crisis hotline