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J Gerontol B Psychol Sci Soc Sci. 2012 Mar;67(2):159-66. doi: 10.1093/geronb/gbr080. Epub 2011 Jul 16.

Personality, suicidal ideation, and reasons for living among older adults.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, CO 80918, USA.



This study examined associations between diverse types of personality disorder (PD) features, personality traits, suicidal ideation, and protective factors against suicide among community-dwelling older adults.


Participants (N = 109, M age = 71.4 years, 61% female) completed the Coolidge Axis II Inventory, NEO Five-Factor Inventory, Geriatric Suicide Ideation Scale, and Reasons for Living Inventory.


PD features had positive correlations with suicidal ideation and mixed relationships with aspects of reasons for living. Personality traits had negative correlations with suicidal ideation, with the exception of neuroticism, which had a positive relationship, and were mostly unrelated to reasons for living. In regression analyses, borderline and histrionic were the only PD features that contributed significant variance in suicidal ideation, whereas neuroticism was the only personality trait that contributed significant variance in suicidal ideation. No individual PD features or personality traits contributed significant variance in reasons for living.


The findings highlight the complexity of risk and protective factors for suicide and suggest that a thorough assessment of suicidal potential among older adults should include attention to their underlying personality traits.

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