Coping and thought suppression as predictors of suicidal ideation in depressed older adults with personality disorders

Aging Ment Health. 2008 Jan;12(1):149-57. doi: 10.1080/13607860801936714.


Suicide rates are higher among older adults than any other age group and suicidal ideation is one of the best predictors of completed suicide in older adults. Despite this, few studies have evaluated predictors of suicidal ideation and other correlates of death by suicide (e.g. hopelessness) among older adults. Even fewer studies on this topic have been conducted among samples characterized as poor responders to treatments (e.g. depressed individuals with co-occurring personality disorder). The purpose of this study was to examine coping styles and thought suppression as predictors of a suicide risk composite score in a sample of depressed older adults with co-occurring personality disorders. Based on the extant literature, it was hypothesized that maladaptive coping (i.e. emotional and avoidance coping) and chronic thought suppression would significantly predict suicide risk. The results of this study indicated that elevated emotional coping and thought suppression were associated with increased suicide risk. Contrary to hypotheses, lower avoidance coping was associated with increased risk, although this finding is moderated by Axis II diagnosis Thus, treatments that focus on decreasing emotional coping and chronic thought suppression may result in decreased suicidal ideation and hopelessness for older adults with depression and Axis II pathology.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living
  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Aged
  • Comorbidity
  • Depression / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Personality Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Risk Factors
  • Suicide, Attempted / psychology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Thinking