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‘Suicide in seniors happens more often than we’re willing to admit’: Centre for Suicide Prevention

‘Suicide in seniors happens more often than we’re willing to admit’: Centre for Suicide Prevention in Calgary
WATCH ABOVE: Social isolation is a problem for many seniors. As Silvana Benolich reports, it can lead to physical decline, mental health issues such as depression, and even suicide.

According to the Centre for Suicide Prevention (CFSP) in Calgary, suicide in seniors happens more often than we’re willing to acknowledge.

“Our older population has one of the highest rates of suicide,” said CFSP executive director Mara Grunau.

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Last year, 50 men and 13 women over the age of 65 died by suicide, according to Statistics Canada and Alberta Vital Statistics.

READ MORE: Seniors, especially men, at risk of holiday loneliness

Social isolation is something many seniors experience, as they age and outlive spouses and friends.

“The research shows isolation is more of an issue for men and, unfortunately, leads to higher issues of mental issues, suicide, depression,” according to Leslie Tamagi, the chief executive officer of the Kerby Centre.

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“We’ve socialized our men from the time they’re boys to not ask for help,” Grunau added.

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“Our culture is one of ‘pull yourself up by your bootstraps,’ so when you struggle [they’re] reluctant to reach out.”

This can be especially challenging for men in traditionally masculine occupations in Alberta, where jobs are physically demanding and they often work in isolation, Grunau stated.

Transitioning to retirement can also be a particularly vulnerable time, as people grapple with identity loss. Finding a new purpose is key, Grunau added, as well as asking for help.

If you need help, or know someone who is struggling, you can call the distress centre at (403) 266-HELP, or 266-4357.