Suicide Risk in Family Carers of People with Dementia

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This presentation provides an overview of the existing evidence on suicide risk in family carers of people with dementia.

This is a modified version of a presentation delivered at the National Dementia Forum in Brisbane, Australia on 21st September 2013.

The research described in this presentation was conducted by Dr Siobhan O'Dwyer, Professor Wendy Moyle, Professor Diego De Leo, Professor Melanie Zimmer-Gembeck, and Sierra Van Wyk.

For more information, please contact Dr Siobhan O'Dwyer at Griffith University.

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Suicide Risk in Family Carers of People with Dementia

  1. 1. Understanding the evidence on suicide risk in family carers of people with dementia Dr Siobhan O’Dwyer Research Fellow Centre for Health Practice Innovation Griffith University Australia s.odwyer@griffith.edu.au @Siobhan_ODwyer
  2. 2. Caring for a person with dementia is more burdensome than caring for a person with a physical disability Family carers of people with dementia have higher than average rates of depression, anxiety, and poor physical health Depression, anxiety, and poor physical health are all risk factors for suicide in the general population Dr Siobhan O’Dwyer, Griffith University, September 2013
  3. 3. But what about suicide in family carers of people with dementia? Dr Siobhan O’Dwyer, Griffith University, September 2013
  4. 4. O’Dwyer, Moyle, Zimmer-Gembeck & De Leo. (2013). Suicidal ideation in family carers of people with dementia: A pilot study. International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry (Early View) The First Study Dr Siobhan O’Dwyer, Griffith University, September 2013
  5. 5. 1 in 4 family carers had contemplated suicide more than once in the previous year Dr Siobhan O’Dwyer, Griffith University, September 2013
  6. 6. Dr Siobhan O’Dwyer, Griffith University, September 2013
  7. 7. One third said they were likely to attempt suicide in the future Dr Siobhan O’Dwyer, Griffith University, September 2013
  8. 8. Higher levels of burden, hopelessness, anxiety & depression Used more dysfunctional coping strategies Lower levels of optimism, self-efficacy & social support Reported more behavioural & psychological symptoms of dementia Carers who had contemplated suicide… Dr Siobhan O’Dwyer, Griffith University, September 2013
  9. 9. O’Dwyer, Moyle, Van Wyk. (2013). Suicidal ideation and resilience in family carers of people with dementia: A pilot qualitative study. Aging and Mental Health, 17(6), 753-760. The Second Study Dr Siobhan O’Dwyer, Griffith University, September 2013
  10. 10. Department name (edit in View > Header and Footer...) Half had contemplated suicide while caring for a person with dementia One quarter had made preparations for a suicidal act None had attempted suicide Dr Siobhan O’Dwyer, Griffith University, September 2013
  11. 11. I was just so tired that I just wanted to sleep. I didn’t want to die. I’ve never wanted to die. I just wanted to get off the merry-go-round. I just wanted it all to stop. Dr Siobhan O’Dwyer, Griffith University, September 2013
  12. 12. A couple of times there I thought about how I could get away with bumping myself off…because my insurance and all that stuff would’ve set my wife up forever Dr Siobhan O’Dwyer, Griffith University, September 2013
  13. 13. I can’t abandon her. Everybody else has. I would never do that to her. That sense of ‘she needs me, so you don’t abandon a baby’ is stronger than the need for me to do anything to myself Dr Siobhan O’Dwyer, Griffith University, September 2013
  14. 14. Pre-existing mental health problems Comorbid physical health problems Conflict with family or care staff Risk Factors Dr Siobhan O’Dwyer, Griffith University, September 2013
  15. 15. It’s almost like something’s pulling me down and I could do so much more if I didn’t have that (depression) Dr Siobhan O’Dwyer, Griffith University, September 2013
  16. 16. I was being pushed into a corner by the care staff and it was even mentioned at one point “we’ll revoke your enduring power of attorney and we will put him under guardianship” Dr Siobhan O’Dwyer, Griffith University, September 2013
  17. 17. I just so envy the ones at the nursing home who have three sisters and a whole lot of people sharing it. But then we’ve never had that. I don’t know what it is to have a ‘whole’ family. Dr Siobhan O’Dwyer, Griffith University, September 2013
  18. 18. Practical coping strategies Personal characteristics (e.g. compassion, flexibility, determination) Social support Faith Resilience Factors Dr Siobhan O’Dwyer, Griffith University, September 2013
  19. 19. Attempted suicides? Deaths by suicide? Dr Siobhan O’Dwyer, Griffith University, September 2013
  20. 20. Lessons for Clinical & Community Practice Dr Siobhan O’Dwyer, Griffith University, September 2013
  21. 21. 1. It’s important to ask about suicide* *but you must be prepared to handle the response Dr Siobhan O’Dwyer, Griffith University, September 2013
  22. 22. www.mhfa.com.au www.livingworks.com.au/Training-Programs.html 2. Improve your skills… Dr Siobhan O’Dwyer, Griffith University, September 2013
  23. 23. 3. Refer carers in crisis to… Dr Siobhan O’Dwyer, Griffith University, September 2013
  24. 24. For more information Dr Siobhan O’Dwyer Email: s.odwyer@griffith.edu.au Twitter: @Siobhan_ODwyer Acknowledgements Dementia Collaborative Research Centres @DementiaCRC Carers Queensland @CarersQLD Wendy Moyle @WendyMoyle2 Diego De Leo Melanie Zimmer-Gembeck

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