SEARCH

SEARCH BY CITATION

Keywords:

  • suicide;
  • dementia;
  • caregivers;
  • mental health

Objective

The objective of this pilot study was to gather preliminary evidence on suicidal ideation in family carers of people with dementia.

Methods

An online, cross-sectional survey was conducted with 120 family carers, the majority of whom were located in Australia and USA. The survey included measures of suicidality, self-efficacy, physical health, depression, hopelessness, anxiety, optimism, caregiver burden, coping strategies and social support.

Results

Twenty-six percent of carers had contemplated suicide more than once in the previous year. Only half of these had ever told someone they might commit suicide and almost 30% said they were likely to attempt suicide in the future. Carers who had contemplated suicide had poorer mental health, lower self-efficacy for community support service use and greater use of dysfunctional coping strategies than those who had not. In a logistic regression, only depression predicted the presence of suicidal thoughts.

Conclusions

A significant number of people might contemplate suicide while caring for a family member with dementia. Although more research is required to confirm this finding, there are clear implications for policy and clinical practice in terms of identifying and supporting carers who are already contemplating suicide. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.