8March 2018

Why Too Many Australians Living in Nursing Homes Taking their Own Lives?

During a recent study conducted in Australia’s nursing homes, the number and pattern of suicides were examined. It was published in the International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry. The study was conducted for the period between 2000 and 2013. It was seen that around 140 Australians living in the nursing homes committed suicide.

Nearly 70% of these people were male. 66% of males were diagnosed with the ailment of depression. 80% had one or more stress problems like the deterioration of health. 43% were suffering from loneliness and isolation while 30% were having trouble in adjusting to the nursing home life.     

Why is Suicide Becoming Common in Elderly People Residing in Nursing Homes?

The main statistics of the study included the personal characteristics along with the health status of the patients. The details of the suicidal deaths like how, when and where the incident took place were examined. The investigations were conducted in every state and territory of Australia. It was clearly seen that those elderly people with the problem of depression who were admitted to the nursing homes had a higher risk of committing suicide than other elderly people. This indicates that the support care system for the elderly in most of these nursing homes is not sufficient to protect them.

According to the study, around 6% of the total population consists of people who are of 65 years or more. These people depend upon others for care. There are total 2700 nursing homes in Australia having about 1, 70, 000 aged adults. These have the highest suicide rates as compared to the younger people. As compared to the older people living in the community (having a tendency of only 15%), those in nursing homes have a 50% tendency of suffering from depression.

There were many reasons which were taken as the culprit. The aging process, their belief that it is a natural process; changes in the lifestyle, not coping with the environment of the nursing homes etc are some of the reasons for depression. There are several questions which were raised in this concern. Why people in nursing home suffer more from depression? Are they suffering from depression before getting admitted to the nursing home? What is the link between depression and suicidal behavior? Why only some people and not all, suffering from depression commit suicide? These questions clearly indicate that there is a serious problem in the care support system for elderly in most of the nursing homes and then, they can contact the professional team of nurses who have a doctorate degree in nursing.

What are the Measures Taken to Avoid these Kinds of Incidences?

There should be some concrete measures which are to be taken to avoid these types of incidences. Providing emotional support to these people with depression should be the first duty of the support staff. Most of the staff people are stubborn and insensitive to the needs of these elderly people. There should be a national policy to achieve an overall quality of mental health services. Early recognition of suicidal tendencies in these people should be done seriously to prevent this to happen.

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