Perceived Burdensomeness and Suicide Ideation in Older Adults

Department of Psychology, Mail Stop 42051, Texas Tech University, Lubbock, TX 79409-2051, USA.
Psychology and Aging (Impact Factor: 2.73). 03/2011; 26(2):331-8. DOI: 10.1037/a0021836
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Older adults have the highest risk of death by suicide in the United States. Improving our understanding of the factors that lead to increased risk of suicide in older adults will greatly inform our ability to prevent suicide in this high-risk group. Two studies were conducted to test the effect of perceived burdensomeness, a component of the interpersonal-psychological theory of suicide (Joiner, 2005), on suicide ideation in older adults. Further, gender was examined as a moderator of this association to determine if perceived burdensomeness exerted a greater influence on suicide ideation in males. The results of these studies suggest that perceived burdensomeness accounts for significant variance in suicide ideation, even after predictors such as depressive symptoms, hopelessness, and functional impairment are controlled. Gender did not moderate the association. The implications of these findings for treatment of older adults with suicide ideation and elevated suicide risk are discussed.

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    • "We are unsure as to why the elevation in risk was restricted to adults aged below 60 years of age. 'Perceived burdensomeness' has been proposed as an important contributing factor for suicidal behaviour among older age people in general [34]. Although we found no evidence of higher risk of self-harm in elderly men or women diagnosed with the assessed physical illnesses, it may be that the same mechanism impacts strongly among people who experience major physical disorders and associated disability at a premature age. "
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