2010

Authors

  • Siobhan O'Dwyer Siobhan O'Dwyer
  • Wendy Moyle Wendy Moyle
  • Sierra Van Wyk Sierra Van Wyk

Objectives: Family carers of people with dementia have higher than average rates of depression, anxiety and hopelessness. While these are all risk factors for suicide, there has been no research on suicidal ideation in this population. The aims of this pilot study were to conduct an initial exploration of carers' experiences of suicidality and identify factors associated with risk and resilience, which could be used to guide further research. Method: A descriptive qualitative approach was taken. In-depth interviews were conducted with nine carers of people with dementia (four male, five female) and transcripts were alysed thematically. Results: Three themes were identified in the data - 'experiences of suicidal ideation', 'risk factors' and 'resilience'. Four of the nine participants had experienced suicidal thoughts and two had made preparations for a suicidal act. Risk factors included pre-existing mental health problems, physical health conditions, and conflict with other family or care staff. Factors positively associated with resilience included the use of positive coping strategies, faith, social support and persol characteristics. Conclusion: Some people contemplate suicide while caring for a family member with dementia. Further research is required to confirm the rate of suicidal ideation in the caring population and the relative contribution of factors associated with risk and resilience. In the meantime, service providers and health professiols should be taking steps to identify and support carers currently experiencing suicidal thoughts.