Suicidality in older African Americans: Findings from the EPOCH study

Joan M. Cook, Jane L. Pearson, Richard Thompson, Betty Smith Black, Peter V. Rabins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The authors examined the current frequency of suicidality and associated characteristics in a sample of 835 African-American older adult residents of six urban public housing developments who consented to participate in an intervention trial of mobile outreach. The frequency of passive and active suicidal ideation was 2.5% and 1.4%, respectively. Characteristics of individuals with both active and passive suicidality included elevated anxiety, social dysfunction, somatic symptoms, low social support, lack of a confidant, and low religiosity. Characteristics of those with passive, but not active, ideation also included older age, lower levels of education, elevated depressive symptoms, poorer cognitive functioning, and having recently discussed emotional problems with a healthcare provider. The characteristics of those reporting active, but not passive, ideation included having a history of mental health treatment and reporting no instrumental support. Multivariate analyses indicated that depression and religiosity were uniquely associated with passive suicidal ideation, and life satisfaction and religiosity were uniquely associated with active suicidal ideation. The authors discuss implications of these findings and offer suggestions for research and clinical practice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)437-446
Number of pages10
JournalAmerican Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2002

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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