Depression, stress lead to nursing home suicides

Nearly 70 per cent of those who took their own life were male (Bigstock)

About 140 Australian nursing home residents took their own lives between 2000 and 2013, a new study shows. Source: The Conversation.

The study, by Monash University researchers Briony Murphy and Professor Joseph Ibrahim, published in the International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, is the first to examine the number and patterns of suicide in Australia's nursing homes, and the largest such investigation in the world.

“We found nearly 70 per cent of those who took their own life were male, 66 per cent had a diagnosis of depression and nearly 80 per cent were experiencing one or more major life stresses, such as health deterioration,” the researchers write in the study.

“About 43 per cent were experiencing isolation and loneliness, and nearly 30 per cent had trouble adjusting to life in a nursing home.

“We examined the electronic and hard-copy records of each state and territory's coroner and the investigations into these deaths. Details extracted included: the personal characteristics and health status of the individual; how, when and where the incident occurred; and organisational factors such as the size, location and ownership of the facility.

“Our findings highlight that older men with depression entering aged care are at heightened risk of suicide and our aged-care system isn't equipped to provide the support to protect them.

“There are more than 170,000 older adults living in 2700 nursing homes across Australia. This equates to about 6 per cent of people aged 65 and older, and represents one of society's most vulnerable populations who depend on others for care.”

– Briony Murphy is a PhD candidate in epidemiology and forensic medicine at Monash University. Professor Joseph Ibrahim works in the Health Law and Ageing Research Unit at Monash University.


Too many Australians living in nursing homes take their own lives (The Conversation)

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