Revisiting suicide prevention in later life: human-centred approaches in an ageing Ireland

Globally, suicide is more prevalent in older adults when compared to any other age group. This is partly due to the fact that self-harm is more lethal among older adults, and this cohort has complex health conditions which influence recovery. Over the last six years, I have conducted research examining self-harm and suicidality in older adults using mixed-methods approaches, identifying risk factors for self-harm, to improve risk assessment and management of self-harm in later life. While some research has been conducted, further human-centred approaches are needed. Co-production, the process of collaborative research which includes stakeholders such as patients, the public, clinicians, has been identified as the way forward in health services research because of its potential to improve the quality and relevance of research and its impact on policy and practice. Building from my award-winning PhD and postdoctoral research, the aim of this mixed-methods study  is to improve our understanding of factors associated with self-harm and suicide risk in older adults aged >60 and thus co-produce clinical and policy guidance to reduce suicidal behaviour in older adults.

Work Package 1 will provide up-to-date evidence on the extent of suicidal behaviour in older adults nationally based on hospital presentations.

Work Package 2 will examine the risk of suicide among older adults via data linkage of two national databases (National Self-Harm Registry Ireland and The Irish Probable Suicide Deaths Study).

Work Package 3 will examine the perspectives of older adults and healthcare workers of potential barriers of implementation strategies of prevention, identification, and management of suicidal behaviour in healthcare settings.

Work Package 4, informed via previous WPs, will co-produce, in partnership with older adults and healthcare professionals, guidelines and recommendations to prevent, identify and manage suicidal behaviour in older adults.

This research will make recommendations to strengthen and inform suicide prevention strategies.

Award Date
22 September 2023
Award Value
Principal Investigator
Dr Isabela Troya
Host Institution
University College Cork
HRB Postdoctoral Fellowships: ARPP 2023