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date: 20 September 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Suicide is a uniquely human phenomenon, necessitating a human response. Suicide disproportionately claims the lives of older adults, and men in particular. Effective clinical practice with at-risk older adults requires sensitivity to contributing developmental, intrapersonal, social, and existential factors. Whereas the presence of suicide thoughts and behavior may be conceptualized as potential signs of an incipient mental health emergency, demanding quick and decisive action, working clinically with at-risk older adults nevertheless extends temporally beyond moments of behavioral crisis and conceptually beyond risk assessment and management. The field of later-life suicide prevention is in its relative infancy; however, progress is being made in investigating associated risk and resiliency factors and in developing, testing, and disseminating approaches to assessment and intervention. We provide an overview of the literature and call for a more sensitive, compassionate, and effective approach to suicide prevention among older adults, drawing on individually tailored and humanistic-existential approaches to care.

Keywords: suicide prevention, suicide ideation, suicide behavior, risk factors, resiliency, meaning in life, assessment, intervention, humanistic-existential therapy, knowledge translation

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