Senior Citizens US
Senior citizens in California. Reuters

The apparent double suicide of an elderly couple who reportedly jumped from the fifth floor of a Las Vegas hotel’s parking garage has triggered questions about the reasons why afflicted seniors are intending to inflict self-harm.

The elderly couple named Glen and Emi Yamasaki, both believed to have been 63 years old, were seen driving to Silverton Casino Hotel’s highest floor on Wednesday according to the Daily Mail.

“They exited their vehicle, climbed onto the wall and jumped to the ground,” Metropolitan Police Department Lieutenant C.J Jenkins told the Las Vegas Review-Journal . Both succumbed to their injuries.

About 7,699 people over the age of 65 committed suicide in 2014, according to data by the Center for Disease Control.

Elderly people are believed to be at risk of committing suicide for various reasons, according to Dr. Yeates Conwell, director of the Geriatric Psychiatry Program at the University of Rochester. Conwell, along with other researchers at Rochester, identified particular risk factors associated with late-life suicide attempts.

Apart from the most common factors such as depression, psychiatric diseases, and physical illnesses, other factors such the presence of severe incurable pain that has affected an individual’s autonomous functioning capacity are believed to contribute to suicidal thoughts. Other risk factors for seniors include experiencing loss of a loved one, anxiety, social isolation and living alone.

“Imagine these to be Venn diagrams…Their interaction, rather than any one of them, helps us understand why a person might take their life,” Conwell was quoted saying to The Trace.

Researchers have also found that the survival rate of the elderly who attempt suicide is very low compared to members of any other age group.

“Older people who die by suicide aren’t just more likely to die because they’re frail and less resilient to an injury than younger people but also because they use more lethal methods, and they do so with more thoughtful planning.” said Conwell.

Another possible reason for this is because of the method of suicide as well, as it has been suggested that using firearms is the preferred method for suicide by seniors. According to one statistic, elderly white men account for 88 percent of all late-life gun suicides, with a rate of 27 deaths per 100,000. Also based on data compiled by Pew Research, the vast majority of gun owners are white, male, and over the age of 50.

“When we talk about older people committing suicide, we’re talking about older white men…Historically, those are the guys who own guns.” Dr. Liza Gold, a clinical professor of psychiatry at the Georgetown University School of Medicine told Trace.