Only few people know, that suicide rates are increasing with old age. Major risk factors are depression and loneliness. The relevance of sleep disorders has been proven in a recent study. On 14. August 2014 Rebecca Bernert and coworkers from the Stanford University in California published results of a 10y-longitudinal population-based study in late life in JAMA Psychiatry. They show, that problems falling asleep and non-restorative sleep were the two major risk factors for old age suicide.
In september 2014 the World Health Organisation (WHO) published the World Report on Suicide „Preventing suicide – a global imperative“.
To increase awareness for the problem of suicide in old age, I have published a position paper (in German and French) together with the working group on Mental Health and Aging of Swiss Public Health. We also established the „Forum Suizidprävention im Alter“ which is sponsored and supported by Migros Kulturprozent, the association of Swiss physicians FMH, the Swiss Society of Psychiatry and Psychotheray and Ipsilon, the umbrella organisation for suicide prevention. The next Forum with the title „ Ein Suizid – viel Betroffene“ (only in German) takes place on 24th November 2014 at the Duttweiler Institute in Rüschlikon.
Sleep disorders, depression and loneliness in old age should be treated and prevented!
Prof. Dr. Gabriela Stoppe