Thinking about suicide ideation and behavior of older people in care homes, Trish Hafford-Letchfield

Thinking about suicide ideation and behavior of older people in care homes, Trish Hafford-Letchfield



a few years ago my father who was age 76 at the time became very ill very quickly up until then he was in perfect health it even gone to the races a week before his first admission to hospital things went from bad to worse he deteriorated very quickly and the treatment wasn't working and he started to get very frustrated very demoralized very quickly he stopped eating he stopped drinking he couldn't get his hearing aids sorted out so he couldn't hear people were asking me how long has your father had dementia which he never had dementia then he became very angry very withdrawn and he started to say to myself the nurses I want to go now I want to go now even when his nephews visited he asked them to push him off the mezzanine floor in his wheelchair we didn't know what to do the last time I saw my dad he said to me you kiss me there you'll never see me again and I didn't unfortunately because the next day he died so why am I telling you this story since this happened I've spoken to so many people who've told me exactly the same story where an older loved one of theirs has gone into a care home or being in hospital and started to give up now I looked into this thinking what is this phenomena of giving up I looked at national policies on suicides self-harm very little mention of older people I looked at statistics how many people for example have died in the last five years of suicide in care homes it's just a handful not more than 12 per year well that's very strange because personally I know of 12 per year having just talked to family and friends so what is this phenomena of giving up is it a form of self-harm and suicide why are people older people feel that they have to do this we did a study and we spoke to care home workers managers professionals family carers to find out what they thought did they recognize this form of self-harm suicide ideation of behavior so many people had experiences of it they felt very disenfranchised really didn't know what to do with dealing with really difficult communication and end-of-life issues with very little training we also did a systematic review again hardly any tools or protocols and least interventions to deal with depression and self-harm and suicide in later life so my question is this if a younger person stopped eating stop drinking repeatedly said they didn't want to live what would we do in those circumstances it's a form of ageism we really need to give skilled professionals skilled professionals we need to train staff to make sure that they are able to have proper conversations with people to do risk assessments we need a proper suicide prevention and end-of-life care and we need to do more research into this idea of giving up or turning to the wall so let's break the silence on this and let's not give up thank you [Applause]

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