Family connectedness moderates the association between living alone and suicide ideation in a clinical sample of adults 50 years and older

Am J Geriatr Psychiatry. 2012 Aug;20(8):717-23. doi: 10.1097/JGP.0b013e31822ccd79.


Objective: To investigate whether living alone is significantly associated with expression of suicide ideation among mood-disordered mental health patients and whether degree of family connectedness moderates the association between living alone and expression of suicide ideation.

Design: Cross-sectional survey design.

Setting: Inpatient and outpatient mental health services in Rochester, New York.

Participants: A total of 130-mood-disordered inpatients and outpatients 50 years and older.

Measurements: Patients completed a demographics form, an interviewer-rated measure of current suicide ideation (Scale for Suicide Ideation), and a self-report measure of family connectedness derived from the Reasons for Living Scale-Older Adult version.

Results: Patients who reported greater family connectedness were significantly less likely to report suicide ideation; this protective effect was strongest for those living with others (Wald χ(2)[df = 1] = 3.987, p = 0.046, OR = 0.905; 95% CI = 0.821-0.998). A significant main effect of family connectedness on suicide ideation suggested that having a stronger connection to family members decreased the likelihood of reporting suicide ideation (Wald χ(2)[df = 1] = 9.730, p = 0.002, OR = 0.852; 95% CI = 0.771-0.942).

Conclusions: These results suggest potential value in assessing the quality of interpersonal relationships when conducting a suicide risk assessment among depressed middle-aged and older adults.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Data Collection
  • Family Relations*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Inpatients
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mood Disorders / psychology*
  • Outpatients
  • Social Isolation*
  • Suicidal Ideation*