Physical, mental, and social wellbeing and their association with death by suicide and self-harm in older adults: a community-based cohort study

Annette Erlangsen, Emily Banks, Grace Joshy, Alison L. Calear, Jennifer Welsh, Philip J. Batterham, Yeates Conwell, Luis Salvador-Carulla

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Objective: To assess associations between physical, mental, and social well-being and suicide and self-harm in a community-based sample of older adults. Methods: Using a cohort design, questionnaire data from 102,880 individuals aged 65 years or older living in New South Wales, Australia during 2006–2009 were linked to hospital and cause-of-death databases until 2017. Poisson regressions obtained adjusted incidence rate ratios (IRRs). Results: One hundred nine suicides and 191 deliberate self-harm (DSH) events occurred. Compared to those reporting excellent/good overall health, older adults reporting fair overall health had higher suicide rates (IRR = 2.8, 95% confidence interval: 1.8–4.4). Also, suffering from physical limitations was associated with higher rates of suicide. A fair versus excellent/good memory was associated with higher rates of suicide (IRR = 2.0, 1.3–3.3). Male erectile dysfunction was linked to self-harm (IRR = 2.8, 1.0–7.7). Suicide rates were elevated with baseline Kessler-10 scores of 20–50 versus 10–15 (IRR = 5.0, 2.9–8.9); the corresponding IRR for DSH was 2.9 (1.8–4.8). Elevated rates were observed for both self-reported depression and anxiety. Poor versus excellent/good quality of life was associated with suicide (IRR = 4.3, 1.7–10.7) and achieving less than desired to due to emotional problems was linked to self-harm (IRR = 1.8 1.3–2.4). Rates of suicide ande DSH were lower in those with ≥5 people to depend on versus one (suicide: IRR = 0.5, 0.3–0.9; DSH: IRR = 0.5, 0.3–0.7). Conclusions: Older adults experiencing health problems, including those relating to overall health or memory, and those with psychological distress had elevated rates of suicidal behavior. Rates of subsequent self-harm and/or death by suicide were elevated in participants with small social networks.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)647-656
Number of pages10
JournalInternational Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry
Volume36
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - May 2021
Externally publishedYes

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