Chinese Seniors Report Having Frequent Suicidal Thoughts

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A new study of Chinese seniors in the Bay Area suggests they entertain thoughts of suicide at higher rates than seniors in other ethnic groups, reports the Chinese-language Sing Tao Daily. Of those surveyed, the report notes some 15 percent said they had thought of suicide at least once.

Dr. Joyce Chu, Assistant Professor of Clinical Psychology at Palo Alto University, led the research team, which surveyed some 56 elderly Chinese and 25 non-Chinese seniors at the Stepping Stone Adult Day Health center in San Francisco. It is the first such study of its kind targeting elderly Chinese.

Among the findings, researchers found that older Chinese tend to try and suppress feelings related to depression, instead of communicating them with family, friends or mental health care workers. The result was often deeper depression and thoughts of suicide, the paper noted.

Reasons given for depression were often related to long-term sickness and feelings of guilt, shame, or neglect by family members. Language barriers and cultural differences were also cited.

The study’s authors conclude with suggestions for Chinese seniors to be more open about mental or physical ailments, and to be proactive in seeking treatment from experts.