Interventions, Organizational Factors Rarely Studied in Nursing Home Suicides


There is a “paucity” of research into why elderly people in nursing homes commit suicide, according to a review of the literature in the International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry. And in the studies that have been done, the roles that nursing home conditions, staff or different psychiatric or psychological interventions may have played are rarely examined.

In their review, the Monash University researchers found only eight relevant studies in English, of which five were conducted in the US. These studies collectively examined 113 suicides in nursing homes, and 101 had detailed information available.

The researchers identified a number of individual risk factors for suicide, such as being male, being depressed, or having previously attempted suicide. But systemic issues were almost never examined.

“None of the studies formally examined interventions nor discussed recommendations for organizational or structural changes to reduce the risk of suicide in nursing homes,” the researchers stated. “This represents a gap in the literature as organizational factors and environmental stressors of the nursing home including shared rooms, staff turnover, and facility regimens and regulations may contribute to depression in older nursing home residents.”

“There is a paucity of research describing completed suicide among nursing home residents,” the researchers concluded. “More large-scale research is required using standardized methods for reporting information to better understand and prevent completed suicides in this setting.”

Murphy, Briony J., Lyndal Bugeja, Jennifer Pilgrim, and Joseph E. Ibrahim. “Completed Suicide among Nursing Home Residents: A Systematic Review.” International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, May 1, 2015, n/a – n/a. doi:10.1002/gps.4299. (Abstract)


  1. None of these things are investigated because very few people really care about the aged in our society. We are a youth oriented society, plain and simple. The attitude is that old people need to get up and get out of the way, preferably by dying and getting it over with. Old people are seen as a drag and detriment and few people really care about what happens to them. I know. I worked in a really great retirement center/nursing home as their chaplain. Even there many people never had any visits from loved ones or friends.

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  2. I’ve seen nursing homes with directors that make nurse Rachet in One Flew Over The Cuckoos Nest seem like Mother Teresa in comparison, and incompetence and indifference by staff that is nothing less then criminal behavior. All this yet for top dollar paying the nursing home $6000 per month after giving them a $9000 “gift” because they had a reputation for being one of the best and were very choosey as to whom they excepted as captives. I’m speaking of Self Help in Chicago. The directors first name was and still is Hedy and she’s a real full out beach responsible for shortening my fathers life. Transferring to another home the experience was equally as bad. Nursing homes are little fiefdoms where behind closed doors human rights are peeled away.
    Honestly think that in the old white man western movie versions of how American Indian tribes would leave an aged person to freeze to death in the cold outdoors in difficult times (at the time of viewing I used to think it was cruel ) after seeing what happened to my dad in a couple of nursing homes that seems even a crueler way to go . Nursing homes are not anyplace to be held captive for anyone whose seen what passes for caring for the aged there, is really like where its as easy to be declared agitated and force given a psych drug as catching a breath of air. Stay healthy my friends and free. I did see one kind competent nurse in a nursing home once. The rest of staff from director on down incompetent and indifferent. Could all this be a contributing factor to the subject of the article ? Duh!

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  3. While a good point is made here regarding the need to research the prevalence and factors involved in nursing home resident suicides, even more work needs to be done in determining cause of death in nursing home residents. Nursing home residents die and funeral homes are called to take the body. How many of these people died because of poor care, over-medication, medication errors, dehydration, starvation, and preventable infections? We don’t know because no one is looking. I agree with the comments above regarding our lack of interest in our “residentialed” elderly. That apathy, combined with the culture of nursing home corporate greed, has created a very dangerous environment for our frail elders. So let’s first find true cause of death, then look at contributing factors and solutions.

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  4. Seems that while an aged person is in a condition where not a lot of extra time has to be spent helping them they are a welcome cash cow at the nursing home . When a decline in health appears which the staff is very likely not to notice and be in denial about because maybe their cash cow might require more time from a staff too short handed to provide it and tired besides from working double shifts for peanuts. Soon they would like to see you move along to the hospice since now your cash has run out , social security will kick in and people with cash bonus payments are waiting for a spot and since they are in better shape and require less care the phony hospitality act is waiting to greet them as those requiring more care once the “doctor” declares it’s only a matter of time and doesn’t bother to show up anymore followed by less interest from staff , the ” clients” are encouraged into the hospice for the quick week or two staff assisted (morphine whether they need it or not ) wind down of their life. The therapeutic state has a way of processing people no matter what their age. The more helpless you are the freer the employees of the therapeutic state are to work on you under the supervision of an expert schooled in the finer points of pseudo science whatever they call themselves psychiatrists, doctors, or your excellency. While your family if they are still interested go along helplessly kept in the dark by the machinery of pseudo care and pseudo science for profit uber alles.

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