Australian Doctors Help Reduce Elderly Suicide Rate
By Recognizing and Treating Depression
by Kevin Caruso
An Australian study published in the British Medical Journal indicates that increasing prescriptions for antidepressants in Australia has accompanied a decrease in suicides among the elderly.
But are there other contributory factors that could be causing the decrease in suicides besides antidepressants?
Yes, says Dr. Andrea Mant, an associate professor of public health and community medicine at the University of Queensland in Australia.
"What really has been going on is an increasing role of general practitioners in recognizing symptoms of depression and responding to them. It's not so much the antidepressants themselves, but the indication that family doctors are paying more attention to the psychological stress that can lead to suicide," says Dr. Mant.
Dr. Mant and the other researchers in the study used data from 1991 to 2000 and compared the suicide rates with the number of antidepressant prescriptions for different age groups.
The overall suicide rate remained relatively steady, but a significant decrease was observed for older men and women. And the elderly are the ones who receive the highest number of prescriptions for antidepressants.
"This reinforces what practitioners are already taught, that anyone who is depressed needs to be evaluated for the possibility of suicide," says Dr. Alan Swann, a professor of psychiatry and a spokesman for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. "Almost everyone who commits suicide is in the throes of a major psychiatric illness - depression, schizophrenia, or bipolar disorder. And they are all treatable."
Dr. Swann is exactly right with his statements.
Untreated depression is the number one cause for suicide.
And untreated bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and other mental illnesses cause innumerable suicides.
Over 90 percent of all people who die by suicide have a mental illness at the time of their death.
And all of these mental illnesses are highly treatable.
Doctors need to be thorough in their checkups of their patients to try to pick up on any signs of depression. And then give them the appropriate treatment.
This study from Australia gives me hope that depression and other mental illnesses will be detected more frequently by doctors (and treated more effectively by doctors), and thus the suicide rate will decline.
If you believe that you may have depression, please make appointments with a doctor and a therapist so that you may be evaluated.
Please do not try to treat depression on your own.
And if you are suicidal, please read the information on the home page of this website and take action.
If you or someone you know is suicidal, please go to the Home Page of this website for immediate help.
I love you.