If you are thinking about suicide, or you’re worried about someone else, there is help and there is hope. Call or text 9-8-8 toll free, any time — lines are open 24/7/365. To learn more about 9-8-8 visit their website.

You are currently on the:

CMHA National

Visit our provincial websites

Preventing Suicide in Older Adults

Suicide amongst older adults is often unreported and goes unnoticed. Older adults are less likely to talk about suicidal thoughts than younger people are. Older adults contemplating suicide may start engaging in behaviours such as refusing to take medications, stop eating and drinking, or ignoring medical advice that could threaten their lives. Older adults may be more prone to loneliness, as life partners and friends pass or adult children are no longer in regular contact. For older adults loneliness, social connection, and restricting means are important measures to prevent suicide. The resources below can help you understand suicide among older adults and how you can help.

Elder Abuse Awareness Fact Sheet

The COVID-19 Pandemic has changed social relationships forever, and its impact still creates a sense of loneliness for older adults today. This fact sheet provides some tips and resources to help combat elder abuse and isolation.

Inspiring Change to Better Support the Mental Health of Older Adults in Canada

While people ages 65 and older make up about 20% of Canada’s population, there is limited data on how many are at risk or currently experience mental health issues and conditions. This gap, along with a range of health, support, and environmental barriers, adversely impacts equitable mental health and care outcomes for this group. The Mental Health Commission of Canada is aligning its efforts in this area with the UN Decade of Healthy Ageing initiative, a global collaboration to improve the lives of older people and their families and enhance the communities they live in. Check out this 12 page info-sheet for more information!

Older Adults and Suicide Fact Sheet

This quick read quickly outlines some demographics of suicide among older adults. It includes risk factors, what you can to do reduce suicide among older adults, warning signs, and what older adults can do to stay mentally healthy. Check it out for more information.

Social Isolation: The Relationship Between Social Isolation And Elder Abuse

Social isolation and the abuse of older adults deeply impact individuals, families and communities. It is important to understand social isolation, loneliness and abuse, and how they interact. This quick resource explains how these concepts are intertwined and what you can do to help reduce loneliness and elder abuse.

Social Isolation: Indigenous Seniors

This resource is to help organizations and service providers adopt approaches to help Indigenous seniors strengthen human connections. Social isolation is a silent reality experienced by many seniors, and particularly Indigenous seniors. This resource consists of two parts: Part 1 explores social isolation from the perspective of Indigenous seniors and Part 2 provides practical tools and resources to encourage human connections to reduce social isolation. It is hoped that this resource will heighten awareness and sensitivity and help organizations address their particular social needs.

Social Isolation: LGBTQ+ Seniors 

This resource is to help organizations and service providers adopt approaches to help lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer seniors strengthen human connections. Social isolation is a silent reality experienced by many seniors, particularly LGBTQ seniors. It is hoped that this resource will heighten awareness and sensitivity, as well as help organizations address LGBTQ seniors’ particular social needs.

Social Isolation: New Immigrant and Refugee Seniors

This resource is to help organizations and service providers adopt approaches to help new immigrant and refugee seniors strengthen human connections. Social isolation is a silent reality experienced by many seniors, and particularly new immigrant and refugee seniors. It is hoped that this resource will heighten awareness and sensitivity and help organizations, friends, family members, and communities address the particular social needs of these seniors, many of whom may be unable to communicate their concerns to others.

Preventing Suicide in Older Adults

This resource is intended to help health care and social service organizations develop strategies to prevent suicide in older adults by providing: Information on the prevalence, risk factors, and lethality of suicide attempts in older adults; Recommendations on universal, selective, and indicated prevention strategies; Guidance for health and human service professionals on how to assess suicide risk and take appropriate actions to keep an older adult safe; and Suggestions and Resources to help aging services, behavioural health, and primary care providers develop and adopt effective suicide prevention programs.

Social Isolation of Seniors: Volume I – Understanding the Issue and Finding Solutions

This volume is the first of two documents. The purpose of this volume is to: raise awareness about social isolation among seniors, introduce some useful concepts related to social innovation, and show how social innovation can help to address social isolation in Canadian communities through examples. The complementary document linked below, Volume II: Ideas Exchange Event Toolkit presents tools to help individuals and organizations develop lasting community partnerships to reduce the social isolation of seniors, is linked below.

Social Isolation of Seniors: Volume II – Ideas Exchange Event Toolkit

This volume is the second of two documents produced. This toolkit is meant to help people and organizations host effective meetings to exchange ideas and respond to the social isolation of seniors in their communities. It contains tools, templates and support resources for hosting an ideas exchange event.

The Fountain of Health Initiative Seniors Mental Illness Assessment Toolkit

The Fountain of Health Initiative for Optimal Aging is a national effort to improve how all Canadians age, offering reliable information about the science of healthy aging. The Fountain of Health offers tools to support Canadians in adopting an adaptive outlook and behaviours to promote health and happiness through: 1) mental and cognitive health promotion; 2) ageism and mental illness stigma reduction; and 3) advocating for equitable access to quality seniors mental health care service across Canada. The following Seniors Mental Illness Assessment Toolkit is intended to be a helpful clinical tool or guide for a comprehensive Geriatric Psychiatry Assessment for use in clinical

Toolkit For Late Life Suicide Prevention

In 2006, the Canadian Coalition for Seniors’ Mental Health (CCSMH) developed the first ever, multidisciplinary, evidence-based, national guidelines on the assessment of suicide risk and prevention of suicide in older adults. The CCSMH has developed and is continually updating an interactive Late Life Suicide Prevention Toolkit to enhance understanding of late life suicide and its prevention among front-line health care providers, medical and mental health care clinicians, trainees, and educators.

Canadian Coalition for Seniors’ Mental Health

Mental illness is not a normal part of aging. All seniors have the right and deserve to receive services and care that promotes their mental health and responds to their mental illness needs! The Canadian Coalition for Seniors’ Mental Health (CCSMH) is hard at work ensuring that seniors’ mental health is recognized as a key Canadian health and wellness issue. Check out their websites for more resources.

High Five

People in Canada over the age of 65 now outnumber those under the age of 15. Based on the success of the quality standard for children’s programs, HIGH FIVE® has launched a new standard for older adult recreation. This project builds on the current HIGH FIVE® national industry standard for children, using best practices and systems already in place to customize a standard for the rapidly advancing demographic; older adults. Check out this link for more information!

Nova Scotia Health Website – Mental Health Support For Seniors

The Nova Scotia Health Mental Health and Addictions website allows you to use filters on their resources to find support for seniors specifically. The link above will take you directly to the resources filtered for seniors, no extra searching required!

Suicide Prevention Resource Center 

This webpage provides a full list of materials, programs, trainings, and other information available for older adults struggling with their mental health or having thoughts of suicide. Visit this link if you are in need of support or know an older adult who is.

Assessing Suicide Risk in Older Adults

Suicide in older adults is continuing to rise and, as the older population increases, so will the rate of suicide. By learning more about the risk factors, assessment areas to explore, and ways to improve treatment, primary care providers can help decrease the incidence of suicidal behaviors in this population.

Suicide in Older Adults: Current Perspectives

Suicidal behaviour in older adults (65 years old and over) is a major public health issue in many countries. The aim of this review was to provide a critical evaluation of recent findings concerning specific risk factors for suicidal thoughts and behaviours among older people: psychiatric and neuro-cognitive disorders, social exclusion, bereavement, cognitive impairment, decision making and cognitive inhibition, physical illnesses, and physical and psychological pain. Our main findings emphasize the need to integrate specific stress factors, such as feelings of social disconnectedness, neuro-cognitive impairment or decision making, as well as chronic physical illnesses and disability in suicide models and in suicide prevention programs in older adults. Furthermore, the chronic care model should be adapted for the treatment of older people with long-term conditions in order to improve the treatment of depressive disorders and the prevention of suicidal thoughts and acts.

Suicide in Older Adults With and Without Known Mental Illness: Results From the National Violent Death Reporting System, 2003–2016

Suicide risk increases with age, and evidence exists for the under diagnosis and under treatment of suicide risk in older adults. Recent data suggest that many U.S. adults who die from suicide do not have a known mental health condition. This study compares the characteristics and precipitating circumstances of geriatric suicide decedents with and without known mental illnesses. The results were that most older adults who die from suicide do not have a known mental health condition. The rapidly growing U.S. geriatric population calls for more effective methods to identify and treat at-risk older adults, and particularly those who are male.

Skip to content