CDC: Suicide rates highest among elderly men in US, most involve guns

Suicides are on the rise and there is an alarming increase of elderly men who are taking their own lives. But they are not the only ones.

News4JAX was out talking to seniors on Wednesday about the problem and we also went to the local suicide call center where the new 988 number is answered.

988 is a number you need to know if you know somebody who’s attempting or thinking about suicide. They can talk to a person and it’s available 24/7.

Since 988 went online, the local United Way said it has handled about 1,200 calls a month.

“Our call volume data has shown really significant increases from various populations, quite frankly, children, and seniors,” said Coretta Hill with United Way.

According to a new CDC report released Wednesday, it’s the senior population that has seen the biggest increases nationwide. According to the report, men 85 and older are the most at risk. But research shows that if seniors socialize more it could have a big impact on lowering the suicide rate.

The Singleton Senior Center in Jacksonville is a place where many seniors socialize. Suicide prevention could be something as simple as a dance party that happened on Wednesday or meeting with peers, sitting down, having lunch and just socializing. Those at the senior center said it works.

James Smith and Edward Davis were here having lunch together on Wednesday. James said suicide is something he would never think about, and said the room of friends is one reason why.

“I could never do it, no matter how bad it got,” Smith said.

While Davis said he has a friend who considered it but he talked them out of it.

“I tell him to just come in and joke,” Davis said.

“This place is very important to me because I could get out and meet people and socialize,” Vinson said.

Hill said the 988 number is making a difference.

“The change a year ago, the decision was made federally to move to this three-digit number that people can remember. And it does work, because since that time, we have seen an increase of anywhere between 50 to 250 percent in call volume,” Hill said.

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