, Volume 24, Issue 2, pp 141-148

Thoughts of suicide among HIV-infected rural persons enrolled in a telephone-delivered mental health intervention

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This study characterized rates and predictors of suicidal thoughts among HIV-infected persons living in rural communities of eight U.S. states. Self-administered surveys were completed by 201 HIV-infected persons living in communities of 50,000 or fewer that were located at least 20 miles from a city of 100,000 or more. All participants were clients of rural AIDS service organizations and had recently enrolled into a randomized clinical trial of a telephone-delivered, coping improvement-group intervention designed specifically for HIV-infected rural persons. At baseline, participants reported on thoughts of suicide, psychological symptomatology, life-stressor burden, ways of coping, coping self-efficacy, social support, and barriers to health care and social services. Thirty-eight percent of HIV-infected rural persons had engaged in thoughts of suicide during the past week. A logistic regression analysis revealed that participants who endorsed thoughts of suicide also reported more depressive symptoms(odds ratio [OR] = 2.19; 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.32-3.63, p < .002), less coping self-efficacy (OR = 0.70; 95% CI = 0.56-0.88, p < .002), more frequently worried about transmitting their HIV infection to others (OR = 1.66, 95% CI = 1.14-2.40, p < .008), and experienced more stress associated with AIDS-related stigma (OR = 1.58, 95% CI = 1.07-2.35, p < .03). As AIDS prevalence rates increase in rural areas, interventions that successfully identify and treat geographically isolated HIV-infected persons who experience more frequent or serious thoughts of suicide are urgently needed.

Research supported by Grant R01 MH59009 from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), a research supplement to MH59009 from the Office on AIDS Research, and NIMH Grant P30-MH-52776 (Center support grant). We extend appreciation to Dr. Ben Ogles, Bernadette Davantes Heckman, collaborating AIDS service organizations, and all study participants.