Just Thinking about It: Social Capital and Suicide Ideation among Homeless Persons

Department of Sociology, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, AR 72701, USA.
Journal of Health Psychology (Impact Factor: 1.22). 10/2007; 12(5):750-60. DOI: 10.1177/1359105307080604
Source: PubMed


Suicide ideation is a sensitive indicator of personal well-being. While ideation occurs in roughly 3 percent of the US population annually, in this study rates are 10 times higher. This article explores the role of social capital in mediating negative life circumstances on ideation for a sample of 161 homeless adults in a mid-sized Southern US metropolitan area. Our results imply that social capital does not function the same way for homeless persons as it does for the general population. This finding supports growing evidence that social capital's much touted benefits for personal well-being may not apply to disadvantaged populations.

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    • "Another study shows that the higher the social capital of a community, the more its individuals can benefit from health interventions (Kennelly et al. 2003). Social capital has been said to be associated with variables other than health, such as crime, suicide, cigarette smoking, substance abuse, educational achievements, organizations' efficacy, and society's capacity for accepting interventions, economic prosperity, and sustained development (Leyden 2003, Fitzpatrick et al. 2007; Folland 2008; Galea et al. 2002; Lundborg 2005; Saegert and Winke 2004). Social capital has been widely discussed and measured in different countries in recent years. "
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    ABSTRACT: The objective of this study was to determine the various dimensions of social capital in Tehran and its association with socioeconomic variables. Two thousand, four hundred and eighty-four persons participated in the study through multi-stage stratified sampling in Tehran. The study questions were extracted from the World Bank integrated questionnaire. While respondents obtained over 50 % of the attainable scores in the ‘trust’, ‘cooperation’, ‘social cohesion’, and ‘political action’ dimensions, they obtained only 18.9 % of the attainable scores in the ‘networks’ dimension. The respondents in age groups older than 45 had higher trust scores than respondents in the 18–25 age group. Men had higher ‘network’ and ‘social cohesion’ scores than women (p ≤ 0.001). Respondents in the poorest wealth quintile had lower ‘networks’ and ‘social cohesion’ scores than the richest group and ‘political action’ scores higher than the richest group (p = 0.038). The lowest score in ‘Tehranians’ social capital was in the groups and networks dimension. Therefore designing effective interventions for such activities, particularly in women’s groups, is a priority.
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    • "Mental illness alone may afflict 30% to 40%. Although the prevalence of serious mental illness is still disputed, homeless people's life circumstances are associated with elevated levels of depression and suicidal ideation (Bao et al. 2000, Fitzpatrick et al. 2007). Mental health disorders are significantly more common among the homeless than among the public at large, even after taking the possible overdiagnosis of some disorders into account. "
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