The suicide rate among the elderly remains high, with health problems being the main reason senior citizens attempt to take their own lives, a suicide prevention center said yesterday.
The suicide rates in Taiwan have been trending lower for all age groups except for adults over 65, said Lee Ming-bing (李明濱), head of the Taiwan Suicide Prevention Center, citing information from the Department of Health last year.
In interviews with senior citizens who attempted suicide last year, the center found that the most common factor behind their action was a severe illness or ailment, cited by 43.1 percent of those surveyed, followed by 20.9 percent who said family issues were the reason.
Records from the Bureau of National Health Insurance showed that of the senior citizens who had taken their own lives, 75 percent had been diagnosed with a specified critical illness.
Some of the prominent family problems include family discord or the loss of a husband or wife, with elderly men who are single or divorced having a higher chance of committing suicide than dying from natural or accidental causes.
Lee reminded people to show extra concern during the Lunar New Year holiday for elderly people in their neighborhood who live alone or have chronic ailments because they could get emotional during the period known for family reunions.
“Everyone can safeguard against suicide,” Lee said.
He described an easy three-step strategy in approaching people showing emotional distress.
“The first step is to listen and show concern. Second is to show support by standing by them, and third is to refer them to professionals,” he said.
There were 26,427 people who attempted suicide in Taiwan last year, statistics by the center showed.