The Plugin

Take a Minute, Change a Life

By Susanne Montana Jones, Masters Student in Applied Gerontology, Flinders University

When Making a Difference Matters

Did you know that in Australia, according to recent figures, the suicide rate in men aged 85+ years was a staggering 39.3 per 100,000 people compared with 11.8 deaths per 100,000 in males aged 15-19 years (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2015). Neither of these are good figures but at a time when more people are living longer, it is very concerning when a high percentage of older people are at risk of suicide.

At a time when more people are living longer, it does not look good when a high percentage of older people are at risk of suicide. What is that saying about living a longer life today? We need to empower older people now with skills for resilient living, to assist them with developing strong and flexible adaptive behaviours for positive ageing. Older people today have lived through some of the harshest global events of the last century, they have made it through these times with fortitude and grace - even a sense of humour at times. Now is the time for older people to live as well as they can.

But there is more. If you know of anyone in your circle who is experiencing any of the risk factors for suicide and suicidal thoughts, you can help. Some of those risk factors include

  • being isolated
  • no longer being able to drive, recently bereaved
  • expressing strong reluctance to enter an aged care facility
  • not wanting to be ‘a bother'
  • experiencing physical disability

So how can you help? By getting in touch - by phone if necessary. By getting together at the pub for lunch - regularly. By organising transport places such as the Botanic Gardens for afternoon tea - green spaces can be healing places. By visiting them with cake. By going shopping once a week for a month. In short, by staying connected.

World Suicide Prevention Day this year was the 10th September. The theme for this year is ‘Take a Minute, Change a Life'. Take a minute to notice what's going on with your family, friends and colleagues - and yourself. Having a conversation about this issue could make all the difference.

COTA is organising a suicide prevention for older people event on the 22nd November. A range of speakers will talk about the topic to foster open, honest conversation on this difficult topic in relation to older people. We hope to help people to get their heads together to come up with ways of supporting those who need it. By making a difference to older people now we can help them to live well in older age - and make a difference for the older people of tomorrow.

To register to attend this event visit https://www.cotasa.org.au/events/2017/wspd-event.aspx