A large number of senior Asian Americans deal with mental health issues, with more than 50 percent in New York City
alone expressing symptoms of loneliness or depression, according to a
2016 report. Many of those at risk for depression and suicide are
immigrants and refugees, Ida explained. These elders are dealing with
trauma as a result of living in war-torn countries, witnessing political
upheaval or adapting to life in a foreign land.
Among them are refugees who survived Cambodia’s Khmer Rouge regime that left more than 1.5 million people dead, many buried in mass graves. There are also those who struggle to deal with memories of communist “re-education” and the Vietnam War.
And some senior immigrants still have trauma from adjusting to the U.S.
Even if they’ve lived in the country for a while, they can still feel
separated by language and culture, Ida said.
who are isolated are also at risk for depression and suicide. When
elderly Asian Americans lose their support systems, like a spouse, or
don’t have adult children to care for them, they often find it tough to
grapple with their situation, experts say.
can be particularly difficult for elders who were raised with the
cultural expectation that their children would take care of them in
their old age,” Ida said.
For senior women, Ida suspects, the suicide rate is particularly high partly because they
tend to outlive men. And if they depended on their husbands for
support, but no longer have it, they become especially vulnerable.