Examining the relations between hopelessness, thwarted interpersonal needs, and death ideation among older adults: Does meaning in life matter?

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2019-05

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Abstract

Older adults are at an elevated risk of death ideation. The interpersonal theory of suicide and the 3-step theory may provide a framework to better understand factors that contribute to death ideation in this population. The purpose of this study was to integrate suicide theories and examine the role of meaning in life in the associations between theory-based risk factors (i.e., hopelessness, thwarted belongingness, perceived burdensomeness) and death ideation among older adults. Participants were 243 adults aged 60 and older recruited from primary care settings in West Texas. PROCESS Model 1 was used to test the statistical moderation effects for the hypotheses. As hypothesized, meaning in life was a significant moderator of the associations between hopelessness and death ideation, thwarted belongingness and death ideation, and perceived burdensomeness and death ideation. These findings suggest that low meaning in life strengthens the associations between theory-based risk factors (i.e., hopelessness, thwarted belongingness, perceived burdensomeness) and death ideation in older adults. Implications, limitations, and future directions are discussed.

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Keywords

Hopelessness, Hopelessness, Thwarted interpersonal needs, Death ideation, Older adults, Meaning in life, Thwarted belongingness, Perceived burdensomeness

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