Associations between anxiety disorders, suicide ideation, and age in nationally representative samples of Canadian and American adults

J Anxiety Disord. 2014 Dec;28(8):823-9. doi: 10.1016/j.janxdis.2014.09.005. Epub 2014 Sep 16.


Suicidal behaviors are of significant concern for the individuals displaying such behavior and for service providers who encounter them. Using nationally representative samples of Canadian and American adults, we aimed to examine: whether age moderates the relationship between having any anxiety disorder and suicide ideation (SI), the prevalence of SI among younger and older adults, and whether age and individual anxiety disorders were differentially associated with SI. Age moderated the relationship between any anxiety disorder and SI among Americans only. Past-year SI was less prevalent among older, compared to younger, adults; though, nearly every anxiety disorder was associated with increased odds of SI among younger and older Canadian and American adults after controlling for covariates. Effect sizes were particularly large for older American adults, but were coupled with large confidence intervals. Findings contribute to a growing literature suggesting that SI in the context of anxiety is a highly prevalent and complex mental health problem across the adult lifespan.

Keywords: Aging; Anxiety disorder; Cross-national; Epidemiology; Suicide.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors*
  • Aged
  • Anxiety Disorders / epidemiology
  • Anxiety Disorders / psychology*
  • Canada / epidemiology
  • Educational Status
  • Female
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Marital Status
  • Middle Aged
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors
  • Substance-Related Disorders / psychology
  • Suicidal Ideation*
  • Suicide, Attempted / psychology
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Young Adult