Depression, Hopelessness, and suicidal ideation in the terminally ill

Psychosomatics. 1998 Jul-Aug;39(4):366-70. doi: 10.1016/S0033-3182(98)71325-8.


This study investigated the mediational hypothesis of hopelessness in predicting suicidal ideation in a group of 196 patients with advanced terminal cancer. Each patient underwent a semistructured interview to assess hopelessness and suicidal ideation, and also completed the Beck Depression Inventory (short form). Hopelessness was correlated more highly with suicidal ideation than was the level of depression. In multiple linear-regression analyses, hopelessness contributed uniquely to the prediction of suicidal ideation when the level of depression was controlled. For health care providers attending to the needs of dying patients, hopelessness appears to be an important clinical marker of suicidal ideation in this vulnerable patient population.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Depression / diagnosis*
  • Depression / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motivation*
  • Palliative Care / psychology
  • Personality Inventory
  • Risk Factors
  • Suicide / psychology*
  • Suicide Prevention
  • Terminal Care / psychology*