301 W. Franklin Street
Taylorville, IL 62568
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FROM THE SHERIFF’S DESK, VOL 5 NR. 3
By Christian County Sheriff Bruce Kettelkamp
Suicide and the Elderly
What is the problem? Suicide and the elderly. Elders make up 12 percent of the United States population. Of this percent, elders account for 18 percent of all suicides. This is one fifth of all suicides. A staggering number that needs attention, this rate among elders is two times higher than younger age groups. Like younger age groups, these people are suffering. Attention should be brought to this age group just as much as the others addressed in previous articles. Elders are a part of our community and their suicide rate is important. To properly address this problem in order to save those in our community, attention must be drawn to certain areas. These areas include: symptoms and warning signs, and protective factors.
The symptoms and warning signs that elders’ posses are unique. The most common symptom is depression, but this depression takes a different form than the previous ages groups mentioned. It is found that depression is undiagnosed in older persons. Many physical issues have symptoms that mimic depressive symptoms. Also, some medications have the side effect of depression. The unique symptoms of depression in the elderly include:
· Social withdrawal
· Loss of appetite
· Vague complaints of pain
· Inability to sleep
The above symptoms are just a few of the many symptoms that elders feel. In addition to depression, it is often found that elders feel grief after major life changes such as leaving a home of many years or losing a loved one. Sadness and grief are normal, temporary reactions to the loss and hardship but should not go unnoticed. Elders in this state of grief and depression should be watched and be around loved ones or community members.
Just as the risk factors and symptoms increase possible suicide, protective factors can make a difference. Protective factors are things that people look to inside of them to help. More technically, protective factors are the things within a person that tend to have the greatest impact on a person’s ability to overcome suicidal thoughts. These protective factors help encourage positive outcomes. They can be used to help youth respond to stress and help build resilience. These factors are figured out at a young age and can be used throughout life. It is important to help the elderly continue to find these factors.
Looking within can be that one thing that saves a life. Looking within helps build a connection with oneself. It can also be adapted to loved-ones or even a pet. Ways to help the elderly connect to family, friends, a social group, etc. include these few connection topics:
· Cultural beliefs
· Religious beliefs
· Good health
· Supportive peers
Helping elders connect to themselves and others builds hope. With this hope, a sense of independence comes back to these elders. Often, elders become less independent as time goes on. It is important and vital to recognize the independence they might have. Like our youth and middle age adults, preventative measures can be taken. Listening, validating, and supporting are three ways that community members can help our elders. Talking points can include:
· Stories. Listening to elders’ stories might not only teach you something, but it also allows them to be heard. Even if you’ve heard the story, listen again.
· Feelings. Loss becomes more frequent as elders age and it does not make it easier. Validating their feelings of loss, loneliness, pain, etc. can help bring back an elder who is considering suicide.
· Reach out. Be that supportive community member the elder is looking for. Reaching out to them and being helpful without intruding is important.
Taking action and becoming included in the elders in our community’s lives might just help save them. Be a part of the role in prevention.
Traffic Safety Information:
It’s that time of year again. Farm equipment will be back on the roads within the next couple of weeks and it is important to be aware on our county roads. Here are some tips for our farmers:
· Plan travel to avoid rush hours, bad weather, and busy roads
· Be obvious to motorists by proper use of reflective emblems
· Turn on hazard lights mounted on the equipment
· Always use a turn signal to indicate plans
· Be aware of all traffic—in front of you and behind you
As a motorist, it is important to share the road safely with the farm equipment. Though everyone is in a hurry, take the necessary precautions and drive slowly with patience. Here are some tips for our motorists:
· Reduce speed when encountering farm equipment
· Slow down when you see the Slow Moving Vehicle Emblem—the orange and red reflective triangles warn you that they are moving at a slow pace
· Keep a safe distance between you and the equipment—if you can’t see the mirrors, they can’t see you
· Pass wide, large equipment only if you know the conditions are safe
· Be prepared to yield to wide equipment
Department Activity for the last 5 months: