Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2012, 9(3), 722-745; doi:10.3390/ijerph9030722

A Systematic Review of Social Factors and Suicidal Behavior in Older Adulthood

1 Department of Psychiatry and Neurochemistry, Neuropsychiatric Epidemiology Unit, Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology, Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg, Wallinsgatan 6, 43141 Mölndal, Sweden 2 Department of Psychiatry, University of Rochester Medical Center, 300 Crittenden Boulevard, Rochester, NY 14642, USA 3 Department of Mental Health, Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, 624 North Broadway, S850, Baltimore, MD 21205, USA 4 Département de Psychologie, Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières, 3351 des Forges blvd., Trois-Rivières, QC G9A 5H7, Canada 5 The Interdisciplinary Department of Social Sciences and the Music Department, Bar-Ilan University, Ramat-Gan, Israel 6 Department of Psychology, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523, USA 7 Australian Institute for Suicide Research and Prevention, National Centre of Excellence in Suicide Prevention, WHO Collaborating Centre for Research and Training in Suicide Prevention, and Life Promotion Clinic, Mt Gravatt Campus, Griffith University, 176 Messines Ridge Road, Mt Gravatt, QLD 4122, Australia 8 Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic, University of Pittsburgh, 3811 O’Hara Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15260, USA 9 Department of Psychiatry and Neurochemistry, Sahlgrenska University Hospital, Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg, Blå Stråket 15, 41345 Gothenburg, Sweden These authors contributed equally to this work.
* Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 26 January 2012; in revised form: 16 February 2012 / Accepted: 22 February 2012 / Published: 1 March 2012
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Suicide Prevention and Public Health)
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Abstract: Suicide in later life is a global public health problem. The aim of this review was to conduct a systematic analysis of studies with comparison groups that examined the associations between social factors and suicidal behavior (including ideation, non-fatal suicidal behavior, or deaths) among individuals aged 65 and older. Our search identified only 16 articles (across 14 independent samples) that met inclusion criteria. The limited number of studies points to the need for further research. Included studies were conducted in Canada (n = 2), Germany (n = 1), Hong Kong (n = 1), Japan (n = 1), Singapore (n = 1), Sweden (n = 2), Taiwan (n = 1), the U.K. (n = 2), and the U.S. (n = 3). The majority of the social factors examined in this review can be conceptualized as indices of positive social connectedness—the degree of positive involvement with family, friends, and social groups. Findings indicated that at least in industrialized countries, limited social connectedness is associated with suicidal ideation, non-fatal suicidal behavior, and suicide in later life. Primary prevention programs designed to enhance social connections as well as a sense of community could potentially decrease suicide risk, especially among men.
Keywords: death wishes; suicidal ideation; non-fatal suicidal behavior; suicide; social factors; social support; systematic review; older adults

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MDPI and ACS Style

Fässberg, M.M.; Orden, K.A.; Duberstein, P.; Erlangsen, A.; Lapierre, S.; Bodner, E.; Canetto, S.S.; Leo, D.D.; Szanto, K.; Waern, M. A Systematic Review of Social Factors and Suicidal Behavior in Older Adulthood. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2012, 9, 722-745.

AMA Style

Fässberg MM, Orden KA, Duberstein P, Erlangsen A, Lapierre S, Bodner E, Canetto SS, Leo DD, Szanto K, Waern M. A Systematic Review of Social Factors and Suicidal Behavior in Older Adulthood. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 2012; 9(3):722-745.

Chicago/Turabian Style

Fässberg, Madeleine Mellqvist; Orden, Kimberly A. van; Duberstein, Paul; Erlangsen, Annette; Lapierre, Sylvie; Bodner, Ehud; Canetto, Silvia Sara; Leo, Diego De; Szanto, Katalin; Waern, Margda. 2012. "A Systematic Review of Social Factors and Suicidal Behavior in Older Adulthood." Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 9, no. 3: 722-745.

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