Garry Knight // Flickr
An elderly couple crossing the street in London, England on June 7, 2011. Nevada has the highest rates of elderly suicide in the country peaking at ages 75 to 84.

In a 2018 report, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found Nevada rates of suicide have declined between 1999 to 2016. Although there has been a decline in youth suicide, Nevada has the highest rate of elderly suicide.

As Nevadans aged in 2018, they are more likely to take their lives—peaking at ages 75-84.

According to the 2018 America’s Health Ranking, the rate of suicide has increased from 19.4 per 100,000 deaths to 22.2 per 100,000. 50 elderly individuals aged 75-84 per 100,000 died by suicide compared to the 18.1 per 100,000 of the U.S. national rate. Nevada has the highest elderly suicide rate of any other state — the second highest being Utah with 28.9 per 100,000. They also found older white or Native American divorced males are the most at risk group for elderly suicide.

For other age groups, there is 14.9 per 100,000 deaths for ages 15-24, 22.7 per 100,000 deaths for ages 25-34, 26.8 per 100,000 deaths for ages 45-54, 27.3 per 100,000 deaths for ages 55-64 and 48.1 per 100,000 deaths for ages 85 and beyond.

The American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy discovered approximately 40 percent or more of elderly suicides go unreported due to “silence suicides”— overdoses, self-starvation or dehydration and other methods, which can potentially be reported as accidents. AAMF also reported the elderly are more at risk for a double suicide — a suicide where two spouses, friends or acquaintances take their lives at the same time.

“Researchers found that more than half of people who died by suicide did not have a known diagnosed mental health condition at the time of death,” the 2018 CDC press release said. “Relationship problems or loss, substance misuse; physical health problems; and job, money, legal or housing stress often contributed to risk for suicide.”

Recovery Connection found in 2010, there were around 9,909 Nevadans who admitted themselves to rehab for drug and alcohol-related issues.

A clinical study led by Kenneth R. Conner found alcohol dependence grows with age and the alcohol dependence is associated with suicide in this age group.

The Department of Number found the Nevadan unemployment rate peaked at 13.7 percent September 2010. There is also about 4.3 percent of Nevadans who are unemployed as of February 2019, which is higher than the national average of 3.8 percent. Talk Poverty discovered there are only 35 units of affordable housing in Nevada, which ranks the state 49th in the country.

Nevada is attempting to address these issues

Nevada’s Office of Suicide Prevention aimed to decline suicide rates in 2017 by adopting a better protocol for discharged patients from hospital settings and develop monitoring systems.

Along with high elderly suicide rates, Nevada is seeking a bill, which will allow physician-assisted suicide.

According to the Death with Dignity National Center, Nevada will potentially become the seventh state to pass this legislation. The bill was introduced on February 14. Currently, 17 Nevada lawmakers have supported the bill. The physician-assisted suicide has passed out of the Nevada Senate Health Committee.

States with physician-assisted suicide include Oregon, Washington, Vermont, Hawaii, Colorado, California, Montana and Washington D.C.

 

Taylor Johnson can be reached at tjohnson@sagebrush.unr.edu or on Twitter @NevadaSagebrush.