Commentary on Financial Advisor magazine article by Ted Knutson
Reductions in Social Security or Medicare benefits could cause more seniors to take their own lives, experts tell Financial Advisor magazine.
The anxiety caused by added financial difficulty could “tip the scales” for some seniors, psychologist.
Marnin Heisel, a board member of the American Association of Suicidiology and a professor at the University of Western Ontario, tells the publication.
Psychiatrist Yeates Conwell, director of the Office for Aging at the University of Rochester Medical Center, tells Financial Advisor magazine that suicides caused by financial stress are more typical among working-age adults. But an increased reliance on personal savings could change that, Conwell tells the publication.
By themselves, financial shocks aren’t enough to cause someone to commit suicide, Conwell and Heisel tell Financial Advisor magazine.
Other factors, such as illness, depression or lack of social support, play a part as well, they say.
Risk of Suicide
But finances are nonetheless a good predictor of who’s at risk of suicide, Heisel tells the publication.
Financial advisors need to take a different approach to elderly clients dealing with financial difficulties than they would with other clients, Heisel and Conwell tell Financial Advisor magazine.
For starters, seniors are less likely to be open about thoughts of suicide than younger clients, they say.
Heisel and Conwell say that rather than focusing on investment returns, advisors may want to exhibit compassion with elderly clients they suspect of being at risk, according to the publication.
On the other hand, advisors don’t need to add psychiatry or psychology to their curriculum nor should they sound the alarm unless there’s strong cause to suspect a client could commit suicide shortly after a meeting with an advisor, Heisel and Conwell tell Financial Advisor magazine.
Rather, advisors need to practice compassion and understanding when dealing with elderly clients hit with financial difficulties, they say.