FROM THE EDITOR'S PEN /
I received a call yesterday from my good friend,
Bob. He is the owner of the Griswold Special
Care franchise in Miami and was quite concerned
after having gotten word of the second male family
caregiver suicide in the community in as many
months. I have known Bob for many years, his wife
having been my sister’s best friend as children, and
our usual conversations run from lively political
discussions to shared jokes and cartoons that can be
found online. This time, he was calling to sound an
alarm bell. He was most concerned that these
two gentlemen in particular seemed to be easily
handling the things that came their way as family
In researching his concern, I ran across an
article written by Donna Cohen, Ph.D., a noted
caregiving author and professor at the University of
South Florida. Dr. Cohen’s article was
entitled “Homicide-Suicide in Older Persons: How You
Can Help Prevent a Tragedy.” I think it
Some good advice from Dr. Cohen:
What to Do if You See Signs
- Do not be afraid to ask if the older person
has thought about suicide or homicide-suicide.
You will not be giving them new ideas.
- Do not act surprised or shocked. This will
make them withdraw from you. Continue talking
and ask how you can help.
- Offer hope that alternatives are available.
Do not offer glib reassurance. It may make the
person believe that you do not understand.
- Get involved. Become available. Show
interest and support. If you cannot do this,
find someone who can, such as a neighbor or a
minister, priest, or rabbi.
- Ask whether there are guns in the house. Ask
the person what plans they have to die. The more
detailed the plan, the higher the risk.
- Remove guns and other methods to kill.
- Do not be sworn to secrecy. Get help from
persons or agencies that specialize in crisis
- Call a crisis hotline in your area or seek
the help of a geriatric specialist. Do not try
to do things by yourself.
There is help in the community. If you believe there
is a risk for homicide-suicide, contact a
professional immediately. Call a suicide crisis
center, a crisis hotline, a family physician, a
psychiatric or medical emergency room, or a
community mental health center listed in the yellow
pages of your phone book.