Passive Suicide Ideation Among Older Adults in Europe: A Multilevel Regression Analysis of Individual and Societal Determinants in 12 Countries (SHARE)

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Passive suicide ideation (PSI) is common among older adults, but prevalences have been reported to vary considerably across European countries. The goal of this study was to assess the role of individual-level risk factors and societal contextual factors associated with PSI in old age.


We analyzed longitudinal data from the Survey of Health, Ageing, and Retirement in Europe (SHARE) on 6,791 community-dwelling respondents (75+) from 12 countries. Bayesian logistic multilevel regression models were used to assess variance components, individual-level and country-level risk factors.


About 4% of the total variance of PSI was located at the country level, a third of which was attributable to compositional effects of individual-level predictors. Predictors for the development of PSI at the individual level were female gender, depression, older age, poor health, smaller social network size, loneliness, nonreligiosity, and low perceived control ( R2 = 25.8%). At the country level, cultural acceptance of suicide, religiosity, and intergenerational cohabitation were associated with the rates of PSI.


Cross-national variation in old-age PSI is mostly attributable to individual-level determinants and compositional differences, but there is also evidence for contextual effects of country-level characteristics. Suicide prevention programs should be intensified in high-risk countries and attitudes toward suicide should be addressed in information campaigns.

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