The Samaritans of Singapore flagged this year that the number of elderly aged 60 and above who took their own lives in 2017 was the highest since it started tracking suicides in 1991.
Addressing this issue, experts said that one suicide is a suicide too many. Dr Seng Kok Han, Psychiatrist from Nobel Psychological Wellness Clinic (A member of Healthway Medical), shared his opinion that one should not take the words of an elderly who speaks about suicides lightly, as studies have shown that people who committed suicide tend to have mentioned suicide to someone before. He encourages family members to recognise and acknowledge any fear or anxiety experienced by elderly family members facing depression.
Dr Seng added that geriatric depression is often under-recognised and undertreated, in part because the elderly frequently have multiple medical disorders and depression often present as possible causes of symptoms. Health care providers, on the other hand, are often more focused on medical problems and may have missed the signs.
Dr Seng said to prevent suicides, there should be more public education on depression and one should partner with family physicians to early detect elderly who may have depression.