Suicide is ageless - every third suicide committed by retirees

Photo: Postimees/Scanpix
11/26/2014 3:10 PM
Category: Society

Around 70 people who have retired, commit suicide each year and although suicide numbers have dropped significantly from 409 in 1989 to 209 last year, the decline has mostly come in the young and middle-age demographics.

Merike Sisask, the head of the Estonian-Swedish Mental Health and Suicidology Institute, told Eesti Ekspress that the number of middle-aged people committing suicide has fallen since the turn of the 1990s as then many found it hard to adapt to the new society.

The reasons lie in health and neglect, with the weekly saying one problem is ageism. Older people are repelled from the job market and looked at as second-rate citizens.

Jing Wu, whose doctoral thesis on suicides among the elderly in Europe was named the best dissertation at Tallinn University this year, said social guarantees and a good health care system help decrease the number of suicides among the elderly, like in the United Kingdom and Ireland, but close family traditions such as older people living with their children, like in southern Europe, also help.

State services are not always a guarantee of low retired-age suicide numbers, as shown by statistics from Scandinavian countries, where depression, leading to loneliness, play a huge role while in central Europe, in France, Germany and the Benelux nation, suicide number among the elderly are also high as the societies are male-focuses, where men work long hours and have little time to keep families close.

High retirement age suicide numbers in Eastern Europe and the Baltics are explained by radical changes in society what some experts call the Soviet-syndrome, meaning that the disappearance of trust leads to a vanishing of a meaning to life.


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