Physical multimorbidity and wish to die among adults aged ≥65 years: A cross-sectional analysis of the Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing

Lee Smith, Jae Il Shin, Josep Maria Haro, Louis Jacob, Guillermo F. López Sánchez, Mark A. Tully, Hans Oh, Andre F. Carvalho, Yvonne Barnett, Laurie Butler, Ai Koyanagi

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Background Physical multimorbidity (i.e., ≥2 chronic conditions) may induce feelings of wish to die (WTD), but there is limited literature on this topic, while the mediators in this association are largely unknown. Thus, the aim of the present study was to investigate this association and its mediators among older Irish adults. Methods Cross-sectional, nationally representative data from Wave 1 of the Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing 2009–2011 were analyzed. Information on self-reported lifetime diagnosis of 14 chronic physical conditions were obtained. WTD was defined as answering affirmatively to the question “In the last month, have you felt that you would rather be dead?” Multivariable logistic regression and mediation analyses were conducted. Results Data on 2941 adults aged ≥65 years [mean (SD) age 73.2 (5.2) years; 45.0 % males] were analyzed. Physical multimorbidity was associated with 3.39 (95%CI 1.58, 7.28) times higher odds for WTD. This association was largely explained by pain (% mediated 28.1 %), followed by depression (19.4 %), sleep problems (18.4 %), perceived stress (13.0 %), loneliness (10.4 %), anxiety (8.1 %), and disability (7.2 %). Conclusions Multimorbidity was associated with increased odds for WTD among Irish older adults. Addressing the identified mediators may contribute to reducing feelings of WTD among older adults with multimorbidity.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)263-269
JournalJournal of Affective Disorders
Early online date25 Jun 2022
Publication statusPublished online - 25 Jun 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Dr. Guillermo F. López Sánchez is funded by the European Union – Next Generation EU.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 The Authors


  • Chronic conditions
  • Multimorbidity
  • Wish to die
  • Older adults
  • Ireland
  • Epidemiology


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