Personality and suicidal ideation in the elderly: factorial invariance and latent means structures across age

Paolo Iliceto, Emanuele Fino, Ugo Sabatello, Gabriella Candilera

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives: Suicide among the elderly is a dramatic global health problem. Although fatal attempts are frequent in the elderly, research indicated that they rarely present long-term elaboration of suicidal ideation and communicate their intents. Consequently, risk factor detection and assessment are salient. Although evidence on the association between personality and suicidal ideation in young adults is accumulating, little is known about its relevance in the elderly. The purpose of the present study was to analyze the components of a measurement model that are invariant across young adults and older adults and then investigate the relations among dimensions of personality and suicide risk. We postulated a specific relation pattern a priori and tested the hypotheses statistically in order to examine the models for equivalency of the factorial measurement.

Method: We investigated 316 young adults and 339 older adults, who were administered self-report questionnaires to assess depression, hopelessness, alternative five-factor model of personality, and self–other perception.

Results: Multigroup confirmatory factor analyses were conducted, yielding a final model with excellent fit to the data. This model showed a similar pattern of associations between suicidal ideation and personality across both groups.

Conclusions: Although the elderly are exposed to specific life stressors associated with suicidal ideation, our findings suggest that the elderly and young adults may be similar on personality and psychopathology variables predicting suicidal ideation than previously hypothesized. Implications are provided for enhanced assessment and intervention of the elderly high in neuroticism, depression, hopelessness, and with negative self–other perception.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)792-800
JournalAging and Mental Health
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 30 Jan 2014


  • elderly
  • neuroticism
  • extraversion
  • suicide
  • hopelessness


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