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Ohio News

Senior Suicides Rising In Ohio

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The health and quality of care for seniors in Ohio is improving, according to a report by United Health Foundation. That includes the quality of senior dental visits, home healthcare, and nursing homes compared to last year.

But Ohio also saw a rise in senior suicides, according to Dr. Rhonda Randall, chief medical officer of UnitedHealthcare Retiree Solutions.

"We have a disturbing national trend that suicide among seniors has increased by 12% across our nation since 2014," Randall said. "The State of Ohio ranks number 19 for that measure, where 15.7 suicides happened for every 100,000 individuals over the age of 65 last year."

Social isolation as well as the higher likelihood of seniors having a physical disability or illness like diabetes may be factors in Ohio’s senior suicide rate, says Sue Daugherty, director of Serving Our Seniors in Erie County.

"Social isolation in conjunction with feeling physically poor, those are all contributing factors to feeling a lack of purpose," Daugherty said. "We work with people frequently who have diagnosed depression or will say that they feel depressed, but don’t want to seek treatment because of shame."

Daugherty says those issues may be worse for older people living in rural parts of the state, due to lack of access to healthcare facilities as well as a shortage of home nurses in hard-to-reach areas.

This story first appeared on Ideastream. For more stories like this, visit wcpn.ideastream.org