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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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.
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.
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.