Warning signs of elderly suicide and factors affecting professional help-seeking: Care of Sri Lanka
Rasnayake S. & Navratil, P.
Though the suicide rate is remarkably high among older persons in many countries, seeking external assistance in dealing with suicidality is infrequent. Against this background, the objectives of this paper are twofold: to identify possible depressive signs and suicide warnings exhibited by older people before the act of suicide, and to examine the factors affecting the help-seeking behavior of older people who die by suicide. The study revealed that angry outbursts, sleep disturbance, isolation, reduced speaking, and thoughts of the meaninglessness of life are the significant possible signs of depression. However, only a few older persons directly expressed early warnings such as ‘talking about death or suicide.’ Yet, it seems that family members are unaware of the early warning signs. The study found four significant factors that limit the help-seeking behavior of older people dealing with suicidality: a weak social network, poor understanding of depressive and suicidal signs by family members, negative attitudes relating to old age culture, and a crisis of personal perspectives in help-seeking. We conclude that promoting mental health services to older persons and improving their help-seeking behavior in response to various life stressors would help prevent suicide in the older population.