Factors of suicide ideation and their relation to clinical and other indicators in older adults

Tracy K. Witte, Thomas E. Joiner, Gregory K. Brown, Aaron T. Beck, Anthony Beckman, Paul Duberstein, Yeates Conwell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Background: Research on the factor structures of the Scale for Suicidal Ideation (SSI; [Beck, A.T., Kovacs, M., Weissman, M., 1979. Assessment of suicidal intention: the Scale for Suicide Ideation. J. Consult. Clin. Psychol. 47, 343-352]) and the Modified Scale for Suicide Ideation (MSSI; [Miller, I.W., Norman. W.H., Bishop, S.B., and Dow, M.G., 1986. The modified scale for suicidal ideation: reliability and validity. J Consult Clin Psychol, 54, 724-725]) in younger adults have tended to yield two factor solutions. The purpose of the current study was to examine the factor structure of the SSI in an older population in order to determine whether the factor structure was similar and, if so, whether the factors related to other clinical and demographic correlates. Methods: 199 participants (M age 57, S.D.) were selected from a combined database of psychiatric outpatients and inpatients over the age of 49 currently experiencing suicidal ideation. Principal axis factoring was used in order to determine the factor structure of the SSI. In addition, we ran correlations and regression analyses to determine the relation of each factor with other clinical and demographic correlates. Results: Consistent with prediction, we found a two-factor solution. Also consistent with predictions, clinical and demographic correlates related differentially to each of the factors. Limitations: The relatively small sample size and the fact that our sample was predominantly Caucasian. Conclusion: The current study has provided data on the factor structure of the SSI in an older population, demonstrating that suicidal ideation in this group is similar to younger age groups.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)165-172
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Affective Disorders
Issue number1-3
StatePublished - Aug 2006
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


  • Factor analysis
  • Older adults
  • Suicide


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