Posted: Jan 21, 2013 4:22 PM by Beth Beechie - MTN News
GREAT FALLS - For the last 40 years, Montana has been among the top five states in nation when it comes to suicide rates, according to the state Department of Public Health and Human Services, and the rate among Montana's elderly is well above the national average.
Derek Sapp of Cascade County Aging Services says it's though to bring down Montana's suicide numbers among the elderly and to encourage people to speak up about depression or suicidal thoughts, because senior citizens often strive to live on their own and not be dependent on other family members.
"What we want to do is to promote that it's OK to ask for help. It's not a sign of weakness, it's a sign of strength. The risk of losing your independence and anything that you strive to gain could possibly be eliminated because you're now a higher risk," Sapp said.
Experts say that people can help by being alert and observant, and be open about talking to a friend or family member if you're concerned.
Significant changes psychologically, socially and physically can all be the tip of the iceberg when it comes to illnesses that may lead to suicide.
Sapp says that often, people who have either attempted or committed suicide have seen their primary physician within 30 days and that it's not just people who live alone.
Residents at assisted living centers and nursing homes are also still at risk, which just stresses the importance to be observant.
"That is such a crucial role. I mean if there's anything that I could tell a primary care physician the signs of and symptoms are probably right under their nose, but let's take the time to discover it," Sapp said.
For more information, visit the Suicide Prevention Resource Center website.