Year: 2021 Source: The American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry. (2021). Published online 5 February 2021. SIEC No: 20210173

Both social disconnection and suicide are significant public health concerns among older adults, and social disconnection is associated with greater risk for suicide-related thoughts and behaviors in late life. We present a synthesis of research discussed during a workshop hosted by the National Institute of Mental Health on social disconnection and late-life suicide. Social disconnection is related to suicide risk in late life via a variety of mechanisms, including biological, behavioral, and psychological correlates. Researchers in several scientific fields have begun to establish these connections and identify targets for interventions to reduce risk in late life. While research has demonstrated that social connection is amenable to change, there is little research to date on the most evidence-based interventions to mitigate social disconnection or the related risks. However, there are several promising biological, behavioral, and psychological interventions that may target various mechanisms, as well as social disconnection itself. With a relative paucity of research in this area, these lines of study are ripe for innovative investigation. In order to most effectively advance the field, we must establish more consistent definitions of social connection and disconnection; more accurately measure and assess older adults’ social needs; examine the most effective approaches and modalities for assessment and intervention; take into account important contextual factors; and apply a translational, convergent scientific approach.