The influence of limitation in activity of daily living and physical health on suicidal ideation: results from a population survey of Great Britain

  • Michael DennisEmail author
  • Sarah Baillon
  • Traolach Brugha
  • James Lindesay
  • Robert Stewart
  • Howart Meltzer



Studying suicidal ideation (SI) has methodological advantages over examining completed suicide and may provide useful insight into suicidal behaviour. SI is not only strongly associated with mental disorder (particularly depression), but also disability. This article explores the relationship between SI and disability in greater detail.


In the survey of psychiatric morbidity in Great Britain, 8,580 randomly selected adults were interviewed. Three questions were asked to assess SI, and a set of questions identified ADL limitation.


Data was available on SI and ADL limitation in 8,513 of those surveyed. The independent association between SI and specific ADL limitations was greatest in older people. The strength of association between SI and ADL limitation increased with the number of domains of ADL affected and was of similar magnitude for most individual domains. In those with limitation in ADL, limited social support remained independently associated with SI.


Disability is an important independent correlate of suicidal ideation, particularly in older people. Preventative programmes need to be considered for disabled older people.


suicidal ideation disability general population 


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Copyright information

© Steinkopff Verlag Darmstadt 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael Dennis
    • 1
    Email author
  • Sarah Baillon
    • 2
  • Traolach Brugha
    • 3
  • James Lindesay
    • 2
  • Robert Stewart
    • 4
  • Howart Meltzer
    • 5
  1. 1.Psychiatry for Older People, School of MedicineSwansea UniversitySwanseaUK
  2. 2.Psychiatry for the Elderly, Dept. of Health SciencesUniversity of Leicester, Leicester General HospitalLeicesterUK
  3. 3.Dept. of Health SciencesUniversity of Leicester, Leicester General HospitalLeicesterUK
  4. 4.Institute of Psychiatry, Section of EpidemiologyKing’s College LondonLondonUK
  5. 5.Dept. of Health SciencesUniversity of LeicesterLeicesterUK

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