Factors associated with suicidal thoughts in a large community study of older adults

Almeida, Osvaldo P., Draper, Brian, Snowdon, John, Lautenschlager, Nicola T., Pirkis, Jane, Byrne, Gerard, Sim, Moira, Stocks, Nigel, Flicker, Leon and Pfaff, Jon J. (2012) Factors associated with suicidal thoughts in a large community study of older adults. British Journal of Psychiatry, 201 6: 466-472. doi:10.1192/bjp.bp.112.110130

Author Almeida, Osvaldo P.
Draper, Brian
Snowdon, John
Lautenschlager, Nicola T.
Pirkis, Jane
Byrne, Gerard
Sim, Moira
Stocks, Nigel
Flicker, Leon
Pfaff, Jon J.
Title Factors associated with suicidal thoughts in a large community study of older adults
Journal name British Journal of Psychiatry   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0007-1250
Publication date 2012-12
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1192/bjp.bp.112.110130
Volume 201
Issue 6
Start page 466
End page 472
Total pages 7
Place of publication London, United Kingdom
Publisher Royal College of Psychiatrists
Collection year 2013
Language eng
Formatted abstract
Background Thoughts about death and self-harm in old age have been commonly associated with the presence of depression, but other risk factors may also be important.
Aims To determine the independent association between suicidal ideation in later life and demographic, lifestyle, socioeconomic, psychiatric and medical factors.
Method A cross-sectional study was conducted of a community-derived sample of 21 290 adults aged 60–101 years enrolled from Australian primary care practices. We considered that participants endorsing any of the four items of the Depressive Symptom Inventory –Suicidality Subscale were experiencing suicidal thoughts. We used standard procedures to collect demographic, lifestyle, psychosocial and clinical data. Anxiety and depressive symptoms were assessed with the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale.
Results The 2-week prevalence of suicidal ideation was 4.8%. Male gender, higher education, current smoking, living alone, poor social support, no religious practice, financial strain, childhood physical abuse, history of suicide in the family, past depression, current anxiety, depression or comorbid anxiety and depression, past suicide attempt, pain, poor self-perceived health and current use of antidepressants were independently associated with suicidal ideation. Poor social support was associated with a population attributable fraction of 38.0%, followed by history of depression (23.6%), concurrent anxiety and depression (19.7%), prevalent anxiety (15.1%), pain (13.7%) and no religious practice (11.4%).
Conclusions Prevalent and past mood disorders seem to be valid targets for indicated interventions designed to reduce suicidal thoughts and behaviour. However, our data indicate that social disconnectedness and stress account for a larger proportion of cases than mood disorders. Should these associations prove to be causal, then interventions that succeeded in addressing these issues would contribute the most to reducing suicidal ideation and, possibly, suicidal behaviour in later life.
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Official 2013 Collection
School of Medicine Publications
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Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 45 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
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Created: Mon, 10 Dec 2012, 11:36:58 EST by Sheila Cleary on behalf of Psychiatry - Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital