"Like Death is Near": Expressions of Suicidal and Homicidal Ideation in the Blog Posts of Family Caregivers of People with Dementia

Behav Sci (Basel). 2019 Mar 3;9(3):22. doi: 10.3390/bs9030022.


Background: The challenges of providing care for someone with Alzheimer's disease and related dementias (ADRD) have been associated with increased stress, poor mental and physical health, social isolation, and financial distress. More recently, caregiving has been associated with high rates of suicidal and homicidal ideation, but the research on these phenomena is limited. The present study analyzed a sample of blogs written by family caregivers of people with ADRD to explore thoughts of suicide and homicide expressed by these caregivers.

Methods: Blogs written by self-identified informal caregivers of people with ADRD were identified using a systematic search method and data were analyzed using a qualitative thematic analysis.

Results: Five themes related to thoughts of suicide and homicide by caregivers and people with ADRD were derived from the analysis: (1) end-of-life care; (2) thoughts of death and euthanasia by the person with ADRD; (3) surrogate decision making; (4) thoughts of suicide by the caregiver; and (5) thoughts of homicide and euthanasia by the caregiver.

Conclusions: The results capture the reality of suicidal and homicidal thoughts among family caregivers of people with ADRD, supporting calls for more research on these complex topics and highlighting the need for changes to clinical practice to prevent thoughts from becoming behaviors or actions.

Keywords: Alzheimer’s disease; blog; dementia; family caregiver; homicide; suicide.