- by NurseKymba Nov 18, '07During my illness, I received word that my Great Auntie had died. In the next sentence I learned she had taken her own life. She did this the week before her husband's scheduled memorial service.
I am still grieving her loss. Tomorrow is their joint memorial... one I really wanted to attend. But since I just had surgery last week, I can't travel. I dropped my parents and brother off at the airport yesterday, after warning them of the security issues of the day, and returned home. I've been mulling my Aunt's suicide, a choice she made and we have to live with...
Elderly suicide is not uncommon. As a matter of fact, they are the age group most likely to succeed. Is it due to their knowledge? Is it their determination and force of will?
According to some sources, elders comprise 12% of our population, but make up 20% of all successful suicides. These numbers do not include "silent suicides" ... those elders who die from purposeful non-compliance with medical regimes, dehydration, or starvation.
Aren't there supposed to be signs? For some, there ARE signs: change in routine, social isolation, verbalizations, and changes in self-grooming. For others, it is as simple as "putting affairs in order". How do we, as concerned friends and family know when some of these subtle signs are related to normal aging, grief, or suicidal ideation? The sad fact is that we miss these cues everyday; we attribute these events as 'normal aging'.
My Great Aunt had lost her husband a few months before. After his death she moved from the nursing home back to the assisted living they had lived in before his illness necessitated a higher level of care. She wasn't writing, but she was playing bingo and such. She was eating, grooming, and gave all the appearances of simply being a woman who was still grieving the loss of her husband... they HAD been together for about 60 years after all! Though the move took her further from her son's home, it brought her closer to the extended family network. She had frequent visitors, and was taken out and about town regularly.
When the signs are seen, the person can begin therapy, be placed on close watch, they can even be hospitalized if necessary. Loved one's can intervene.
In her case, no one suspected.
Her suicide note stated she missed her hubby. She also said if she was 'in her right mind' she might be able to get to the other side of her grief. After all, you don't live to a ripe old age without being able to process grief and other intense emotions. But because she 'wasn't in her right mind', she was simply done. She didn't want to hurt anyone, but she was done.
She then jumped off her 3rd floor balcony. She died instantly upon impact.
What mind was she referring to? A mind and heart filled with grief? Her slowing mental processes? Or perhaps her increasing confusion? One of the saddest things to witness is the slow decline of a vibrant and intelligent person's mental cognition. She knew for several years she was becoming more confused. Her own mother was institutionalized for something similar for the last decade of her life. Could those memories, combined with her own grief, created a fear that she just didn't want to deal with anymore?
We'll never know now ... we can only guess her motivation.
I like to think her hubby caught her soul on the way down and held her in his arms again.
I will miss them both .....
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NurseKymba. (Nov 18, '07). Suicide. Retrieved Tuesday, May 21, 2013, from http://allnurses.com/showthread.php?t=262480
- Nov 18, '07 by Ms KyleeMy condolences.
- Nov 18, '07 by Angie O'Plasty, RNI am so very sorry to hear of your losses. May they rest in peace.
- Nov 18, '07 by leslie :-Dso, so sad...
and i'm sorry.
please don't take the following the wrong way:
but given the insights of your very sensitive post, i'm not sure i can blame your aunt.
our elderly suffer more losses than any other population.
and if their future holds further deterioration and dependence, it's very bleak and hopeless to many.
may your aunt and uncle, find eternal bliss and peace.
- Nov 18, '07 by flightnurse2bsorry to hear about the loss of your aunt and uncle. wishing you and your family peace during this difficult time.
- Nov 18, '07 by psalmPrayers and tears and hugs for you...
- Nov 19, '07 by hope2NMSANE,
Just wanted to let you know that I can understand how you feel. I in 2005 went to a baby shower of my oldest nephews. The babys mother(he was married to prior to about 20 years earlier but the marriage was annualled) they had gotten back together about a year before the baby was born. The mother had had another son by another man. This man was killed in a car wreck, (the think someone ran him off the road from a drug deal).So the first child was without a dad. She came back to my nephew when her first son was around 6 months old. He had always loved her,she him.
So his mother had the baby shower(my sister), but he wasn't there. The baby looked idenical to him when he was a baby. There wasn't any doubt.
That day I called my nephew(that I hadn't heard from in almost 10 years) we started talking & I ask why he wasn't at the shower. He replied he didn't know there was one. So from then on we kept in touch all most every day. He had a alcohol problem. He grew up with this. That was the familys income. He was an only child. He was an abused child growing up, went through alot. So as we talked through the year, he came to see me, Oh what a day that was for me. I will never never forget the HUG he gave me. He stood back, and the grin on his face, reach out to give me a strong hug again. It was wonderful. He was a somewhat wild one. By this time he was 42. He had been living with the mother of the child, paid off her home, the day he did that, she threw out his clothes and belongings in the yard. So he ended up back in a apt. above a liquir store. No windows. He would call me many wee hours of the morning, crying, we would talk, cry together. I would do my best to give him hope. I have 2 sons of my own. At this time they were moving out and I was facing the empty nest. But he never would let me say a negative word about them, even though he had never talked to them or met them. So finally around Christmas, he wouldn't let me send him a gift. He said, that he would have to go pick the gift up downstairs from his dad, and they had had a falling out, He didn't want to go face to face with him, so with his respect don't send him a gift and stop calling him. When he wanted to talk he would call me. With my knowing what was going on in his mind( because he had cryed and told me he hated looking in the mirror at hiself, he hated what he saw) I kept calling daily. Leaving a message with cheer like, it's a beautiful day the sun is shining, the birds are singing. Just anything to try and maybe cheer him up or smile. This man resembled keith urban. He had it all. Just not the love he had craved for so long.
So finally around the first of February my phone rang, it was him. He said," You aren't going to give up on me are you?". "I told my girlfriend, you really love me.". I told him. Yes I do and I told you that. I will not. He had been going with another girl, he took her to Las Vagas for her 40th birthday, because she said she didn't want to turn 40, and what happens in Vagas stays in Vagas.
On April 2 a it was early like 2am he called me crying. He said he had been somewhere he shouldn't have been and saw something that would make any man shiver in his boots. He wouldn't tell me where. He had a gun and was shooting his apartment all up. I heard him open his door, he said let me see if I can shoot this light out. I knew then He really was shooting because I heard the gun go off.
I finally talked to him,got him settled down enough to stop. He said,"I've shot my toe off,see I'm strong,I can take it. I don't have to go to the hospital". He kept on crying and talking about how noone loved him. We talked for about 2 hours, finally I said, tomorrow is going to be a beautiful day. The sun is going to be out, the temperture is going to be around 65, so why don't you just drive down to see me and we will go riding to my dads old home place. So he agreed.
The next morning(which was only like 4 hours) he phoned, he said are you going to be home? I said yes. So he said," I'm going to jump in the shower and I'll be right on.
About an hour later He calls me and he was getting off the interstate, wanted directions. He said, I've already gotten a speading ticket , and about that time, he told me the lights were behind him. They were pulling him over again. So I was on the phone with him during the situation. I heard the officer say, sir who are you talking to. He replied, my aunt sir, I'm trying to get directions to her house, the officer, did you know you were going 95 mph in a 55 mph speeding zone. He said, no sir , I am sorry, I was trying to get directions. So the officer walked back to his cruiser. In the mean time,he saw another state trooper coming toward him. He said, they are going to take me in.
I reassured him to stay calm, that me and my husband would take care of him. The state trooper went on by. then came another, he was so convinced that more were coming, and they were going to arrest him. Finally the officer walked back to his car, gave him a ticket for $189.00. Told him to have a good day.
Where he was at should have taken him at least 25 minutes to have gotten to my driveway. He was sitting in my driveway in 15 minutes.
My husband was home that day, he had told me he was going outside to spray weeds.
When my nephew got there he was still on the phone, so I went out and got in his car because I knew with him in the shape he was he would've been embarresed to have come in the house. I got in the car, tears were rolling. He picked his cell phone up, dialled 411, got the phone # of where his girlfriend was. He told me she had broken up with him. He dialed the #, gave me the phone and said, Please tell her I love her.
So I did. The Girl, SCREAMED OUT. YOU MEAN HE'S GOT YOU CALLING ME. HE'S GOT ALL HIS FRIENDS HERE AT MY WORK TELLING ME. I'M BUSY. I DON'T HAVE TIME FOR THIS. HE'S CRAZY. HE'S A COAAAKKKKK.!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
He heard her. He took the phone, said, I heard you, I'm in her driveway. And hung up.
He bald. Sat there and said, I'm a cooak. I had already seen in his cup holder a grape soda and a cup of solid vodka. I'm thinking, WHY DIDN"T THIS POLICEMAN MAKE HIM GET OUT. HE SHOULD'VE KNOWN HE'D JUST GOTTEN A TICKET AN HOUR PRIOR.
Immeadiatly my nephew started the car, and looked at me and said GET OUT. I pleaded with him, don't do this. PLEASEEEEE. He put the car in reverse and gunned it.
He stopped, said, get out. I still pleaded with him, I ask him for a hug. He wouldn't do it. He looked at me and said, You going with me. By that time he had put the car in drive. Still Pleading, for a hug, he patted me on my hand and said I'll tell Papaw you said Hi. I'm crying begging PLEASE DON'T DO THIS PLEASEE DON'T PLEASE DON'T DO THIS.
IN MY MIND TOO, I'M THINKING WHERE IS MY HUSBAND. THEN HE GUNNED THE CAR, I HAD TO JUMP OUT.
HE LEFT, DROVE HOME, THAT NIGHT HE SHOT HIMSELF WITH A 45 GAUGE SHOTGUN.
HIS BEST FRIEND KNEW HE HAD AND LET HIM LAY FOR 24 HOURS.
THIS HAS BEEN THE HARDEST THING I'VE EVER EVER BEEN THROUGH. I THOUGHT I WAS HELPING HIM. BUILDING UP HIS REASSURANCE. BUT THE MOTHER OF HIS CHILD WOULDN'T LET HIM SEE HIM. EVEN HIS OWN MOTHER, HE HAD GONE TO SEE HIS MOTHER THE THURSDAY PRIOR, TOLD HER HE LOVED HER. TOLD HER IF SHE HAD HIS SON ON SATURDAY TO CALL HIM AND HE WOULD COME OVER. SHE DIDN'T CALL. SHE HAD THE BABY. BY THE WAY SHE HAD THE BABY EVERY SATURDAY AND HIDE IT FROM HER OWN SON . HE DIDN'T KNOW IT UNTIL I TOLD HIM.
NOW HIS MOTHER IS BLAMING ME FOR HIS DEATH. BARRED ME FROM THE CEMETARY.
MY HEART IS CRACKED IN A MILLION PIECES.
THE FOLLOWING DECEMBER, I LOST ANOTHER NEPHEW THAT I RAISED TO A PULMONARY IMBOLISM.
I KNOW WHAT HURT IS.
- Nov 20, '07 by OregonGalI'm sorry to hear the circumstances of her death, seems so tragic.
I'm from Oregon where they have a "death with dignity" law. I don't personally believe that suicide is the answer.
Through the Oregon Death with Dignity Law, approximately 30 people per year make the decision through this law. Most of the people are 70+ years old. It's interesting. The statistics for Oregon are on the internet. My biomedical ethics class discussed this same topic last night.
A related comment, my brother-in-law committed suicide last year. Left behind 3 kids. Hindsight, we had a sign, but really nothing that we were concerned about at the time. The victims are the ones that are left behind.
May you find peace, and their souls be at rest.
- Nov 20, '07 by debbie54I will keep you and your family in my prays
- Nov 20, '07 by happydays352I've had silent suicide happen with several of my pts. It's heartbreaking to watch but I don't question their desire for the suffering and pain to end. The elderly are the most compassionate age group I've ever worked with. Their strength and love will continue to inspire me.
Thank you for sharing your story with us. I'm so sorry for your loss.