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Gerontologist. 1998 Feb;38(1):62-70.

Hopelessness and suicidal ideation in older adults.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry, University of California, San Francisco 94143-0984, USA.


This study examined the role that hopelessness plays in geriatric suicidal ideation. Sixty institutionalized elderly males were recruited. Multiple regression analyses revealed that while hopelessness was strongly related to suicidal ideation, the relationship between hopelessness and suicidal ideation was dependent on level of depression. Participants who reported moderate or higher levels of depressive symptoms were more likely to have suicidal ideation with increasing hopelessness, whereas hopelessness had little effect on level of ideation at mild or lower depressive symptom levels. Unlike previous studies in younger adults, hopelessness did not predict suicidal ideation better than depressive symptoms, although the relationship between depression and suicidal ideation was stronger within higher levels of hopelessness. These findings highlight the importance of considering depression and hopelessness simultaneously when assessing and treating geriatric suicidal ideation.

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