How Physicians Can Help Prevent Elder Suicide
Mr. A, aged 86, shot himself to death shortly after his wife died and he was diagnosed with cancer. He had seen a doctor a few days before, but the physician did not recognize the depth of his grief, loneliness, and hopelessness. Mr. A didn’t mention he was considering suicide, and his physician did not ask questions or use a screening tool that might have raised alarm. The physician also had no knowledge that Mr. A owned a gun, the most common means of suicide for men. Could the physician have helped prevent Mr. A’s death if he had known about his psychological suffering, isolation, and gun ownership? That is not certain; but it is possible.