Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Suicidal tendencies go unnoticed in the elderly

By Leah Poulton, Communications & Marketing Office

Seventy percent of elderly people who commit suicide will visit their doctor one month prior to ending their lives, says a group of fourth-year Bachelor of Science in Psychiatric Nursing students.

Ivana Culina, Tina Kaur, Serina Lai, Kirsten Postnikoff and Cynthia Then came across this shocking statistic while researching their project on elderly suicide for Student Research Days.

During their examination of 11 peer-reviewed articles for the project, they found that almost two-thirds of the elderly population will visit their primary General Practitioner just one month prior to committing suicide, most often with somatic complaints like insomnia, migraines, and abdominal pain.

This indicates that the screening process for suicidal people in this age group is inadequate, the group says.

So, how can it be improved?

Based on their findings, the group had several recommendations: earlier and more thorough screenings by General Practitioners that take into account not just physical symptoms, but psychological as well. Also, public awareness of the issue should be increased, so that families would know what to look for. They emphasized the importance of early detection and recognition of symptoms in preventing suicide.

Student Research Days is an annual event that showcases the research of Douglas College students. This year's event, held on March 30-31, 2010, featured nearly 200 students from across all College Faculties presenting over 100 research project posters on a diverse range of topics. The event continues to raise the profile and enthusiasm for student research at the College.

Next year's student research days will be held on March 28, 2011 at David Lam Campus and March 29, 2011 at New Westminster Campus. Look for registration forms and a call for exhibitors in the Fall, check the Student Research Days page for more information.

With photos and contributions from Trista Orchard