Suicide trends in the elderly during the ongoing COVID-19 Pandemic- a public health urgency
Background: Older adults experience an increased risk for suicide compared to the overall population, and therefore the circumstances surrounding the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) may potentiate this risk. COVID-19 pandemic social distancing policies and ethical guidelines for COVID-19 treatment may exacerbate experiences of social isolation, perceived expendability, and exposure to suffering, which are associated with the three main components of the Interpersonal Theory of Suicide (i.e., thwarted belongingness, perceived burdensomeness to society, and capability for suicide).
The COVID-19 pandemic poses a drain on services and has drawn ethical debates about policies around treating younger adults first. These experiences may lead older adults to possess reduced access to needed medical and psychiatric services and should convey damaging messages of expendability. Furthermore, the potential prolonged stress related to the COVID-19 pandemic may affect neurological, immunological, and health functioning—exacerbating suicide risk. Potential venues to extend treatment options and reduce social isolation are discussed.
Conclusion: We acknowledge optimistic effects also, like “pulling together” as a society and therefore the many valuable ways older adults may contribute during this crisis.
Copyright (c) 2021 Ashish Sarangi, Sozan Fares, Noha Eskander
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