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Table 3 Death wishes and existential issues

From: Prevalence and characteristics of older adults with a persistent death wish without severe illness: a large cross-sectional survey

Aspects and items Active
persistent death wish, no severe illness
N = 155
(0.7% of 21,294)
Passive persistent death wish, no severe illness
N = 93
(0.4% of 21,294)
Persistent
death wish (passive/ active
nature unknown), no severe illness
N = 19
(< 0.1% of 21,294)
Total group
“Persistent
death wish, no severe illness”
(PDW-NSI)
N = 267
(1.25% of 21,294)
Answer “No” to differentiation question - Does the description “seeing no future for oneself, longing for death, while not being severely ill” apply to you?
N = 20,883
(97.8% of 21,294)
P-value
PDW-NSI
group
vs.
Diff. question
= No
P-value
Active
vs.
Passive
Duration of having a death wish
Whole life 27 (17.4) 21 (22.6) 2 (10.5) 50 (18.7) N/A N/A 0.481
A few years 97 (62.6) 54 (58.1) 17 (89.5) 168 (62.9) N/A
Approximately one year 31 (20.0) 18 (19.4) 0 (0.0) 49 (18.4) N/A
Characterization of the death wish
A desire for a natural death that just happens 22 (14.2) 25 (26.9) 3 (15.8) 50 (18.7) N/A N/A 0.008
A desire to not wake up tomorrow and die in my sleep 86 (55.5) 43 (46.2) 9 (47.4) 138 (51.7) N/A
I feel my current situation is unlivable 7 (4.5) 2 (2.2) 2 (10.5) 11 (4.1) N/A
A wish to end my life myself 23 (14.8) 6 (6.5) 0 (0.0) 29 (10.9) N/A
A wish for a doctor to help me end my life 8 (5.2) 4 (4.3) 2 (10.5) 14 (5.2) N/A
A wish for another professional or someone close to help me end my life 5 (3.2) 3 (3.2) 0 (0.0) 8 (3.0) N/A
I do not know 4 (2.6) 10 (10.8) 3 (15.8) 17 (6.4) N/A
Having made concrete plans / taken steps
No 104 (67.1) 93 (100.0) 19 (100.0) 216 (80.9) N/A N/A N/A
Yes, namely:a 51 (32.9) 0 (0.0) 0 (0.0) 51 (19.1) N/A
  Decisions about end of lifeb 24 (15.5) N/A N/A 24 (8.9) N/A
  Membership of interest groupc 14 (9.0) N/A N/A 14 (5.2) N/A
  Contact with a Caregiverd 9 (5.8) N/A N/A 9 (3.4) N/A
  Searched for means to end one’s lifee 6 (3.9) N/A N/A 6 (2.2) N/A
  Searched for information 3 (1.9) N/A N/A 3 (1.1) N/A
  Attempted suicide 2 (1.3) N/A N/A 2 (0.7) N/A
  Other 3 (1.9) N/A N/A 3 (1.1) N/A
Having seriously considered attempting suicide in the past 12 months
Never 20 (12.9) 93 (100.0) 0 (0.0) 113 (42.3) N/A N/A N/A
Once in a while 80 (51.6) 0 (0.0) 0 (0.0) 80 (30.0) N/A
Now and then 38 (24.5) 0 (0.0) 0 (0.0) 38 (14.2) N/A
Often 15 (9.7) 0 (0.0) 0 (0.0) 15 (5.6) N/A
Very often 2 (1.3) 0 (0.0) 0 (0.0) 2 (0.7) N/A
Not willing to answer 0 (0.0) 0 (0.0) 19 (100.0) 19 (7.1) N/A
Having made a suicide attempt in the past 12 monthsf
No 125 (92.6)g N/A N/A 125 (46.8) N/A N/A N/A
Yes 3 (2.2) N/A N/A 3 (1.1) N/A
Not willing to answer 7 (5.2) N/A N/A 7 (2.6) N/A
Preference not to have to experience the futureh
Median (Q1-Q3) 5 (5–6) 5 (3–6) 6 (4–7) 5 (4–6) 1 (1–2) 0.000 0.001
Finding life worthwhile at this moment
Yes 67 (43.2) 56 (60.2) 8 (42.1) 131 (49.1) 20,568 (98.5) 0.000 0.013
No 88 (56.8) 37 (39.8) 11 (57.9) 136 (50.9) 315 (1.5)
Being weighed down by the burden of lifei
Median (Q1-Q3) 5 (4–6) 4 (3–6) 5 (4.5–6) 5 (3–6) 1 (1–2) 0.000 0.014
  1. Results are presented as N (%) unless “Median (Q1-Q3)” is reported
  2. Percentages may not add up to 100% because of rounding
  3. Medians are reported with 25th–75th percentiles
  4. N/A = not applicable
  5. Statistically significant results (p < 0.05) are in bold
  6. aN = 61 because respondents could name more than one plan/step in answering the open question
  7. bIncludes wish or order “do not resuscitate”, wish for euthanasia in due time (in some cases recorded in an Advanced Euthanasia Directive), refraining from medical treatment (in some cases recorded in an advanced directive), having made a testament, having written down something considering end-of-life (not specified)
  8. cInterest group concerning voluntary end of life
  9. dIncludes receiving treatment (psychological or psychiatric)
  10. eIncludes respondents who already obtained means to end their life
  11. fN = 135 due to the fact that respondents who answered “never” or “not willing to answer” to the previous question (having seriously considered a suicide attempt) were not asked this question
  12. gPercentages are based on N = 135
  13. h7-point Likert scale ranging from 1 (“not at all”) to 7 (“very strong”). Respondents could also answer “I do not know”. Therefore, N = 151, N = 83, N = 16, N = 250, N = 989 (comparison group), respectively
  14. i7-point Likert scale ranging from 1 (“not at all”) to 7 (“very strong”). Respondents could also answer “I do not know”. Therefore, N = 154, N = 90, N = 18, N = 262, N = 1014 (comparison group), respectively