One in four people who provide care for a family member with dementia have contemplated suicide more than once in the last year.
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International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, has found that one in four people who provide care for a family member with dementia have contemplated suicide more than once in the last year.
The world-first research also revealed that one-third of those carers said it was likely they would attempt suicide in the future.
“We have known for a long time that caring for a person with dementia can lead to depression, anxiety, and poor physical health, but no-one had ever asked about suicide,” says Dr Siobhan O’Dwyer, study leader and a Research Fellow from Griffith’s Research Centre for Clinical and Community Practice Innovation.
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“Family carers do a remarkable job and make an important social contribution. It’s imperative that more is done to support and improve carers’ emotional health and wellbeing,” says Debra Cottrell, CEO of Carers Queensland.The Gist
The objective of this pilot study was to gather preliminary evidence on suicidal ideation in family carers of people with dementia.
An online, cross-sectional survey was conducted with 120 family carers, the majority of whom were located in Australia and USA. The survey included measures of suicidality, self-efficacy, physical health, depression, hopelessness, anxiety, optimism, caregiver burden, coping strategies and social support.
Twenty-six percent of carers had contemplated suicide more than once in the previous year. Only half of these had ever told someone they might commit suicide and almost 30% said they were likely to attempt suicide in the future. Carers who had contemplated suicide had poorer mental health, lower self-efficacy for community support service use and greater use of dysfunctional coping strategies than those who had not. In a logistic regression, only depression predicted the presence of suicidal thoughts.
A significant number of people might contemplate suicide while caring for a family member with dementia. Although more research is required to confirm this finding, there are clear implications for policy and clinical practice in terms of identifying and supporting carers who are already contemplating suicide.
Source Suicidal ideation in family carers of people with dementia: a pilot study, Louise Durack
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