Suicide Ideation in Older Adults: Relationship to Mental Health Problems and Service Use Academic Article uri icon

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abstract

  • PURPOSE: to assess the prevalence of suicide ideation among community-dwelling older adults and the relationship between suicide ideation, major psychiatric disorder, and mental health service use. DESIGN AND METHODS: we use data from the Canadian Community Health Survey 1.2: Mental Health and Well-being (CCHS 1.2). We estimate the prevalence of suicide ideation and the prevalence of major psychiatric disorder and service use among ideators versus nonideators. In multivariate models, we consider the sociodemographic, social, and mental health correlates of suicide ideation and mental health care use. RESULTS: in our sample, more than 2% of older adults reported suicide ideation in the past year and more than two thirds of these respondents did not meet the criteria for any of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition disorders assessed in the CCHS 1.2. In multivariate models, being male, younger, or widowed, reporting lower social support and higher psychological distress increased the likelihood of suicide ideation. More than 50% of the respondents who reported suicidal thoughts did not access any type of mental health care use. IMPLICATIONS: although suicide ideation is associated with depression and anxiety disorders, many older adults with suicidal thoughts do not meet the criteria for these clinical disorders. The low prevalence of service use among older adults with suicide ideation suggests the need for further inquiry into the factors associated with discussing mental health concerns with health care providers, particularly among older adults who do not meet the criteria for clinical disorder.

publication date

  • December 1, 2010

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