This course provides general information about the prevention of suicide in older adult immigrants and refugees. It discusses data on the prevalence of suicide by age, gender, race, and country of origin, as well as the known disparities in our health care system that leave some people at greater risk for chronic physical and mental illness. Also included in this course are summaries of some of the major research findings about why people take their own lives, the means they use, and how to recognize the risk factors for suicide in older adults, particularly those who have recently come from other countries.
Older immigrants without a history of mental illness may be overwhelmed by the challenges of adjusting to the ways of a new country, and may feel displaced and unable to cope with the many changes they have to make. Other newcomers may come with a history of depression or other chronic conditions of aging, and may find adjustment to a new culture more than they can deal with. Many immigrant older adults will enter the health care system for help with medical problems but show signs of depression and suicidal thinking as well. This course will teach people who work with immigrant groups how to talk about suicide with people at risk, what they can do to prevent at-risk immigrant older adults from taking their own lives, and how to put them in touch with the mental health resources that can properly assess and treat them.