In my earlier blogs I concerned myself with facts related to organization and leadership involved in older ministry plans. However, one thing that strongly affects the longevity revolution in the church and church community is what I left you with the last time, "The greatest proportion of suicides are among the elderly" as reported by ABMA (Association of Baptist Ministries of the Aging).
Let us look at stress factors for older adults who are believers as reported by the geriatric study department at the University of Alabama. Then we shall turn to AARP's study of suicide.
Professor, Michael Parker, cited several stress factors or concerns among believers pertaining to a "youth oriented culture" (the world has left us behind).
Some of those stress factors are:
- Financial concerns (real or preceived)
- Loneliness (loss of family, friends and work)
- Physical loss (real or perceived)
- Feeling of uselessness (real or perceived)
- "The past" (the cumulative effects of life-unresolved issues)
- Pride (real or perceived loss of appearance, physical and/or mental abilities)
- Spiritual immaturity (the more mature we are as believers, the better we can deal with life-changing circumstances.)
It is important for the church (us) to find the "down and discouraged" and develop a relationship with those brothers and sisters in Christ.
Now we shall look at the AARP study as of September 15, 2009 in regard to suicide.
Diane Griffin, the AARP health writer, has compiled the following information:
- Every 90 minutes an older American commits suicide. Most are white males over the age of 85. Among the young, there is about one suicide for every 100 to 200 attempts.
- In adults over 65, there is approximately one suicide for every four attempts.
- Older adults are successful more often than any other group.
- Suicide rates in the elderly are highest among the divorced and widowed.
- Although the older Americans make up only 13% of the U.S. population, they account for approximately 18% of suicides each year.
About seven million elderly Americans suffer from some form of depression, which interferes with their ability to function.
It is important to remember that depression is not a normal part of aging.
Conditions that increase the risk of suicide are:
- Death or terminal illness of a loved one.
- Divorce or separation.
- Heath problems.
- Loss of job.
- Substance abuse.
Warning signs of suicide:
- Depression that quickly disappears. This may indicate that your loved one has finalized a suicide plan.
- Pain that can not be controlled.
- Hopelessness, feeling that things will never improve.
- Withdrawal, anger, irritability, sadness.
- Declining performance.
- Loss of interest in things that were once enjoyable.
- Social isolation.
- Poor Hygiene.
- Change in sleeping or eating habits.
- Self Starvation.
- Ignoring medical instruction.
- Giving away favorite possessions.
- Talking about suicide.
Helping to prevent suicide:
- First and foremost - Take any one of these signs seriously! If a loved one expresses suicidal feelings, he/she needs immediate attention. 75% of all suicides happen after the person makes statements about suicide.
Now that we have examined some AARP facts regarding suicide, how can the Christian community help those persons contemplating suicide?
Jesus took the initiative to seek out those that needed healing. We have a responsibility to offer hope to those planning suicide.
How to help:
- Listen: Let the person express his/her feelings. You do not need to say much as long as you show your concern. Arguing and giving advice will not help.
- Ask: Ask the person if he/she is considering suicide. Find out if he/she has a plan.
- Do not leave: If the person is considering suicide never leave him or her alone.
- Seek professional help: This indicates that you care.
The church (you and me) has a responsibility to help those in the community where your church is located, as well as, those in our congregations.
Even if you are not a member of a church, you can do the "Jesus thing" by touching the lives of those who need help. We need to save lives as the Holy Spirit saves souls.
Help is out there.
Below I have listed some names of organizations that are informational, as well as, inspirational. To access their websites I have posted, for your convenience, their links in the right-hand column of the blog page under "Blogroll".
- National Prayer Center
- Social Security
- The Department of Health and Human Services
- National Association of Area Agencies on Aging
- National Institute on Aging
- The Joyful Heart Newsletter
- The Christian Association of Senior Adult Ministries
- Focus Over Fifty
- The Sonshine Society
- Quiet Place
- Life Quest
- Single and Senior
- Aging In America
Next time we shall deal with the believers and the "GIANT" in his/her life.
Posted on Tue, September 29, 2009