Michael Gerson nailed it in his Sept. 6 op-ed, “Depression, and the duty of concern,” when he wrote “Though friendship, belonging and shared purpose are intangible, they are as essential to humans as air and bread.” May I add another group to his list of those at increased risk of suicide? The elderly. Especially those who are in transition to long-term care.

Most Americans wish to remain in their homes, in their community until they die. Sadly, many cannot because of increased frailty. Study after study shows that such a move from a community where one is known into a facility where one is a stranger can be emotionally devastating. An uptick in suicides attempted or completed occurs in such a transfer.

The good news is that there seems to increasingly be a shift from a focus only on medical problems of the elderly to how to foster meaningful relationships among residents.

Tarpley M. Long, Ellicott City

The writer is a retired clinical social worker and psychoanalyst.

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