New research examines suicide deaths among older Australians either accessing or waiting to access aged care

Posted 15th March 2023 in Research news

Researchers from Flinders University, University of New South Wales (UNSW) , and the South Australian Medical Research Institute found that 354 people from a cohort of 532,507 who were either accessing or waiting for aged care services, died by suicide between 2008 and 2017.

The study, published in the journal International Psychogeriatrics, focused on people aged 65 years or older who had an aged care eligibility assessment (ACAT) or were approved for a home care package or permanent residential aged care (PRAC).

Factors associated with death by suicide compared to death by another cause were found to be male, having a mental health condition, not having dementia, being less frail, and experiencing a hospitalisation for self-injury in the year before death.

Among those who were awaiting care, suicide risk factors included being born outside Australia, living alone, and not having a carer. Researchers also found that those who died by suicide more often accessed government-subsidised mental health services in the year before their death than those who died by another cause.

“Collaboration between aged and mental health care services will be required to implement multicomponent suicide prevention interventions and research to guide implementation (including barriers and facilitating factors for implementation) will be important to this process,” researchers wrote.

In summary, older men, those with diagnosed mental health conditions, those living alone and without an informal carer, and those recently hospitalised for self-injury have been identified as key targets for suicide prevention efforts.

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