Suicidality in family caregivers of people with long-term illnesses and disabilities: A scoping review

Siobhan T O'Dwyer*, Lucy Biddle, Becky Mars, Paul A Moran, Richard P Hastings, et al.

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)
91 Downloads (Pure)


An emerging body of international research suggests family caregivers may be a high-risk group for suicide, but the evidence has not been synthesised. Forty-eight peer-reviewed journal articles were included in this review, spanning low-, middle-, and high-income countries and a variety of illnesses and disabilities. The proportion of caregivers experiencing suicidal ideation ranged from 2.7% to 71%, with evidence of suicide attempts, deaths by suicide, and deaths by homicide-suicide also reported. Risk and protective factors varied across studies and there was little consideration of differences by caregiving relationship, type of illness/disability, or country. There is sufficient evidence to warrant concern for caregivers around the world and prompt action in policy and practice, but more rigorous research is required to draw clear, nuanced conclusions about risk and inform evidence-based prevention and intervention.
Original languageEnglish
Article number152261
Number of pages23
JournalComprehensive Psychiatry
Early online date8 Jul 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Dr. Siobhan O'Dwyer is supported by the National Institute for Health Research Applied Research Collaboration South West Peninsula . Paul Moran and Becky Mars are part-funded by the National Institute for Health Research Biomedical Research Centre at University Hospitals Bristol and Weston NHS Foundation Trust and the University of Bristol . The views expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of the National Institute for Health Research or the Department of Health and Social Care.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 The Authors

Structured keywords

  • SASH


  • carers
  • caregivers
  • suicide
  • homicide
  • disability
  • chronic illness


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