Depression and thoughts of suicide among middle-aged and older persons living with HIV-AIDS.
OBJECTIVE: This study examined the prevalence and characteristics of suicidal ideation among middle-aged and older persons who have HIV infection or AIDS. METHODS: A total of 113 subjects older than age 45 who had HIV-AIDS were recruited from AIDS service organizations in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and New York City. Participants completed confidential questionnaires covering suicidal ideation, emotional distress, quality of life, coping, and social support. RESULTS: Twenty-seven percent of respondents reported having thought about taking their own life in the previous week. Those who had thought about suicide reported greater levels of emotional distress and poorer health-related quality of life than those who had not considered suicide. They were also significantly more likely to use escape and avoidance strategies for coping with HIV infection and less likely to use positive-reappraisal coping. Those who had thought about suicide also were more likely to have disclosed their HIV status to the people close to them, and yet they perceived receiving significantly less social support from friends and family. With the exceptions of physical functioning and coping strategies, differences between those who had contemplated suicide and those who had not remained unchanged after controlling for symptoms of depression. CONCLUSIONS: Persons who are in midlife and older and are living with HIV-AIDS experience significant emotional distress and thoughts of suicide, suggesting a need for targeted interventions to improve mental health and prevent suicide.
Kalichman, SC; Heckman, T; Kochman, A; Sikkema, K; Bergholte, J
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