Wednesday, 7 March 2018

A national tragedy: suicide in Australian nursing homes

Around 140 residents of Australian nursing homes took their own lives in a thirteen year period according to a new publication by Department of Forensic Medicine PhD candidate Briony Murphy and Professor Joseph Ibrahim.

The article, published in the International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, has had around 20,000 reads in a 24-hour period. A concurrent article in The Conversation co-authored by Briony and Joseph is also attracting media, sparking an interview with Joseph on ABC Radio National this morning.

The study is the first to explore patterns of suicide in Australian nursing homes, and is the largest investigation of it’s kind globally. 

Diagnosed depression and multiple major life stresses were important indicators, and of those who took their own life, over 40% felt isolated and lonely. The results indicates that the Australian aged-care system isn’t equipped to provide necessary support for residents. With more than 170,000 older adults in nursing homes nationally, this is a big issue that looks set to grow.

The research group has published recommendations to prevent injury-related deaths in residential aged care, which includes a section on preventing suicide.