We investigated the prevalence and correlates of suicidal ideation in an Australian population sample at three stages of adulthood. Random sampling of a community acquired 7485 participants. Cohorts were 20 to 24, 40 to 44, or 60 to 64 years old. Twelve-month prevalence of suicidal ideation was 8.2%. Suicidal ideation was highest among the youngest cohort. Males with chronic physical illness were more prone to suicidal ideation, as were those aged 20 to 24 and 60 to 64. Furthermore, under-employed subjects 60 to 64 years old were seven times more likely to experience suicidal ideation than their counterparts working full-time. Childhood adversity and rumination had positive associations with suicidality; however, considering oneself more masterful was linked with lower levels of suicidal ideation. Contrary to clinical and popular views, our results highlight that proximal non-mental health variables such as employment, physical health, social factors, and personality are equally important to experiencing suicidal ideation as symptoms of psychological distress.