A senior couple was discovered dead after a murder suicide, last week in Celebration, FL, at approximately 5 am. The 84-year old man was found in his backyard while the 83-year old woman was inside the home. Both victims died of gunshot wounds, with no signs of foul play or forced entry. The incident was only one day after a 77-year old man called 911 to report that he was going to shoot himself and his wife. The couple was found lying dead next to each other after suffering fatal gunshot wounds.
These events occurring in such a close timeline are not a mere coincidence. Murder suicide rates have been rising across the nation. This makes suicide the 10th highest cause of death in the country. According to the Washington Post, “Nationwide the suicide rate has increased by more than 30 percent since 1999, rising from 10.5 suicides per 100,000 to 13.9 per 100,000 in 2016.”
The state of Florida has one of the highest rates of senior murder suicides in the country. According to a new study done by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Suicide rates in northern Florida are noticeably higher than in the southern parts of the state. That rate is known to spike if the county is rural.
So, why are these numbers skyrocketing? The number of adults entering retirement has grown. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there are 75.4 million baby boomers reaching the age of 65 and older. The amount of people making it to an older age is increasing and the population is undoubtedly bound to continue growing. Another leading cause is depression. As reported by The National Alliance on Mental Illness “more than 6.5 million of the 35 million Americans aged 65 and older suffer from the different effects of depression.”
The sad truth is that older adults have become more isolated from their family and friends. One in three senior adults are lonely and this isolation has led to an increased vulnerability to mental illness. Depression is not a normal sign of aging, many of these adults are either misdiagnosed or under treated.
What can you do to combat this phenomenon? Build quality relationships! Spend time with your family and friends or join a hobby-based club. You are bound to meet like-minded individuals who share the same passions as you. Try creating meaningful social contact, by volunteering at a hospital or non-profit. Finding solutions for loneliness requires effort and patience.
The most important thing to remember is always reach out, you are not alone. Tell your Doctor if you are experiencing symptoms of loneliness, depression, hopelessness, pessimism, fatigue and thoughts of suicide. You can call the toll-free, 24-hour hotline of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK to speak to a trained counselor. When searching for a physician visit OurSeniors.net to find a directory of Approved Vendors. Depression based murder suicides are a societal and public health problem. Always reach out and know that our team at OurSeniors.net is always here to help you and our community of seniors.
This article was written using sources from The Washington Post, The National Alliance on Mental Illness, and The Center for Disease Control and Prevention.