Suicide among nursing home residents in Australia: A national population‐based retrospective analysis of medico‐legal death investigation information

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Objectives: Suicide among nursing home residents is a growing public health concern, currently lacking in empirical research. This study aims to describe the frequency and nature of suicide among nursing home residents in Australia. Methods: This research comprised a national population‐based retrospective analysis of suicide deaths among nursing home residents in Australia reported to the Coroner between July 2000 and December 2013. Cases were identified using the National Coronial Information System, and data collected from paper‐based coroners' records on individual, incident, and organizational factors, as well as details of the medico‐legal death investigation. Data analysis comprised univariate and bivariate descriptive statistical techniques; ecological analysis of incidence rates using population denominators; and comparison of age and sex of suicide cases to deaths from other causes using logistic regression. Results: The study identified 141 suicides among nursing home residents, occurring at a rate of 0.02 deaths per 100 000 resident bed days. The ratio of deaths from suicide to deaths from any other cause was higher in males than females (OR = 3.56, 95%CI = 2.48–5.12, P = < 0.001). Over half of the residents who died from suicide had a diagnosis of depression (n = 93, 66.0%) and had resided in the nursing home for less than 12 months (n = 71, 50.3%). Common major life stressors identified in suicide cases included the following: health deterioration (n = 112, 79.4%); isolation and loneliness (n = 60, 42.6%); and maladjustment to nursing home life (n = 42, 29.8%). Conclusions: This research provides a foundational understanding of suicide among nursing home residents in Australia and contributes important new information to the international knowledge base.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)786-796
Number of pages11
JournalInternational Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 2018


  • Coroners
  • Medical examiners
  • Nursing home
  • Prevention
  • Suicide

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