Suicide rate among elderly steadily increasing
Due to the rapid economic and social changes, suicide rates among older people have been steadily increasing for the past several decades.
This was revealed by University of the Philippines professor Clarita Carlos during the launching of her pioneering book entitled “Population Ageing in the Philippines, Issues and Challenges” at the SM Podium, adding that the incidence of suicide tended to increase as older people further advance in age.
Citing statistics from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, Carlos said contrary to belief that older people enjoyed emotional stability and well-being because of their age, the rapid social and economic changes had made them feel isolated and thus prone to depression. This, she said, led them to commit suicide.
Her book was published in partnership with SM Cares, the corporate social responsibility arm of SM Prime. In taking part in the book’s publication, SM Prime president Jeffrey C. Lim explained that SM had always believed in the inclusivity of services that should cater not just to the young but the old as well.
A study conducted by World Health Organization(WHO)/Euro Multicentre Study of Suicidal Behaviour in 13 European countries placed the average suicide rate among people older than 65 years at 29.3/100,000 and suicide attempt rates at 61.4/100,000.
While there is little data on the incidence of suicide among older people in the Philippines, Carlos noted that the figure had been steadily increasing for the past several years.
National Statistics Office records showed that from 1984 to 2005, the suicide rate went up from 0.46 to 7 for every 200,000 for men and 0.24 to 2 for every 200,000 for women.
The suicide rate in the Philippines is 2.5 for men and 1.7 for women (per 100,000 population), according to the Department of Health’s National Center for Mental Health. The WHO placed the worldwide average for suicides at 10.7 percent per 100,000.
The lower figure, she stressed, may be due to underreporting because taking one’s life is considered taboo especially for a predominantly Catholic country.
Carlos said suicide was the biggest challenge among the elderly and the figure would continue to increase over the years as the population of older people would continue to grow.