Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository

Thesis Format



Master of Health Information Science


Health Information Science


Booth, Richard

2nd Supervisor

Shariff, Salimah


ICES Western


Suicide in older adults is a significant overlooked problem worldwide; particularly in Canada where a national suicide prevention strategy has not yet been established. This population-level study utilized and analyzed linked administrative health care databases (from 2011-2015) that were available at ICES (provincial health care administrative data steward), to build a better understanding of suicide (rate; trends; risks/preventive factors) in older adults living in Ontario, Canada. The findings suggest that suicide remains a persistent cause of death in older adults (with an average annual suicide rate of 0.1 per 1000 people over 5 years; the risks include being male, living in rural areas, having a mental illness, a new dementia diagnosis, and increased emergency department visits; while the preventive factors include increased age, living in LTC, having chronic health conditions, and increased interactions with primary health care. The insights from this study could potentially generate evidence-informed suicide prevention programs/policies for older adults in Canada.

Summary for Lay Audience

Suicide in older adults is an important public health problem worldwide. In Canada, there is no national suicide prevention strategy that has been created. To this date, there is research that has explored suicide within older adult populations, but some of the information do not agree with what others have found. This makes it hard to tell what predicts suicide in older adults.

This study’s main goal was to better understand the common factors related to suicide in older adults living in Ontario, Canada. It used data from ICES (an independent, non-profit research institute, which houses health and health-related administrative data of Ontarians) in order to identify older adults who died by either suicide or other non-suicide between January 2011 to December 2015.

This study found that the older adults who died by suicide were younger men who were married, diagnosed with a physical health condition, have received a mental health diagnosis, were less connected to the health care system, and were not living in a long-term care (LTC) facility. Also, the chances are that an older adult who died by suicide will most likely be a male, living in rural areas, having a diagnosis of mental illness, having a new diagnosis of dementia, and increased visits to emergency rooms; and least likely to be older in age, living in a LTC facility, have a chronic health condition, and have visited their family doctor more.

This study focused on factors related to older adult suicide, which helps to understand suicide in older adults living in Ontario. The hope of this study is to one day be able to put an end to older adult suicide.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.