According to Arizona Indicators, a project of the Morrison Institute for Public Policy, the rate of suicide among adults ages 65 and older in Arizona is consistently higher than the national average. Where Arizona ranks 12th in the nation in overall suicide rates, among ages 65-plus, our state is number 8.
Granted, Arizona is home to a significant older adult population, a large veteran population, and 22 American Indian tribes. But why is the older population more vulnerable?
The transient nature of older adults may lend itself to some isolation from family members and supportive networks of friends. Loneliness is a factor that contributes to depression. Often, older Americans report not wanting to be a burden to others as their reasoning for suicide attempts.
ElderVention, a program offered by the Phoenix Area Agency on Aging, helps older adults recognize symptoms of suicide, depression, anxiety and substance abuse. With resources and tools, it works to teach older adults how to maintain their behavioral health and seek help. The program includes in-home counseling by licensed clinical social workers, education for those who work with older adults, and support groups.
Maricopa Elder Behavioral Health Advocacy Coalition (MEBHAC) is another resource, organized by Phoenix Area Agency on Aging with Mercy Maricopa Integrated Care. This group of community members comes together to talk about behavioral health and substance abuse issues among older adults. Meetings are open to the public and take place the third Wednesday, monthly from 9:00 to 10:00 a.m. at the Area Agency on Aging.
If you are concerned about your behavioral health, or someone in your life is struggling, please call 602-222-9444.
For more information, visit Phoenix Area Agency on Aging.