Reporters for Kaiser Health News share the disturbing findings of their look into suicide rates among senior citizens in long-term care facilities.
There aren’t many statistics available for the number of senior citizens who take their life in their twilight years, but a Kaiser Health News analysis of new data from the University of Michigan suggests that hundreds of suicides by older adults each year – nearly one per day – are related to long-term care.
One of the stories shared by reporters at Kaiser Health is that of 77-year-old Wisconsin machinist, Larry Anders who moved into the Bay at Burlington nursing home in late 2017 after a diagnosis of stage 4 throat cancer.
From the start, his family told reporters, they were alarmed by the lack of care at the center, where, they said, staff seemed indifferent, if not incompetent – failing to check on him promptly, handing pills to a man who couldn’t swallow.
Anders never mentioned suicide to his children, who camped out day and night by his bedside to monitor his care.
But two days after Christmas, alone in his nursing home room, Anders killed himself. He didn’t leave a note.
Research shows that thousands more people may be at risk in those settings, where up to a third of residents report suicidal thoughts.