McConnell, D., Hahn, L., Savage, A., Dubé, C., & Park, E. (2015). Suicidal ideation among adults with disability in western Canada: A brief report. Community Mental Health Journal, 519-526. doi:10.1007/s10597-015-9911-3
This study examined suicidal ideation in sample of 19,740 Canadian adults ages 18-64, 25% of whom were considered to have a disability (i.e., self-reported functional limitations in one or more activities of daily living). Suicidal ideation was assessed with a dichotomous item asking if the individual had ever seriously considered “committing suicide or taking your own life” and if so, if they had had these thoughts within the past 12 months. Participants with disabilities were almost three times as likely to report lifetime suicidal ideation and six times as likely to report past year suicidal ideation. They were also significantly more likely to report diagnoses of mood and anxiety disorders, being food insecure, being single, and having a very weak sense of community belonging. Even when these variables—along with age, ethnicity, and sex—were controlled for, however, participants with disabilities were still twice as likely to report lifetime suicidal ideation and two to three times as likely to report past year suicidal ideation when compared to those without disabilities.
I CHOSE THIS ARTICLE BECAUSE it is one of the few studies that assesses suicidality among people with disabilities while accounting for other aspects of sociodemographic vulnerability. These results highlight the dramatically increased rates of suicidality among people with disabilities and the fact that the increased risk associated with disability status goes beyond that which can be explained by the higher rates of other suicide risk factors in people with disabilities. It also highlights the importance of competent and thorough suicide assessment and intervention in rehabilitation psychology.
THIS MONTH’S REHABILITATION SCIENCE SPOTLIGHT was chosen by Emily M. Lund, PhD, CRC, Assistant Professor in the Department of Community Psychology, Counseling, and Family Therapy at St. Cloud State University and a member of the Division 22 Science Committee.