Differences in Risk Factors for Suicidality Between African American and White Patients Vulnerable to Suicide


  • This work was supported by grants to HGP from the National Institute of Mental Health (MH56529; MH63892) and the National Cancer Institute (CA106370), the National Institute on Aging Claude D. Pepper Older Americans Independence Center at Yale (PG-AG-10498), the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, and the Fetzer Institute, a Project on Death in America Faculty Scholarship (HGP), and an American Foundation for Suicide Prevention Young Investigator Grant (LCV).

Center for Psycho-oncology and Palliative Care Research, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, 44 Binney St., SW G440A, Boston, MA 02115.


Risk factors for suicidal ideation and attempts have been shown to differ between African Americans and Whites across the lifespan. In the present study, risk factors for suicidality were examined separately by race/ethnicity in a population of 131 older adult patients considered vulnerable to suicide due to substance abuse and/or medical frailty. In adjusted analyses, social support was significantly associated with suicidality in African American patients, while younger age and the presence of an anxiety disorder were significantly associated with suicidality in White patients. The results suggest that race/ethnicity–specific risk profiles may improve the detection of suicidality in vulnerable populations.