Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Eberly College of Arts and Sciences



Committee Chair

Amy Fiske

Committee Co-Chair

Barry Edelstein

Committee Member

Nicholas Turiano


Rates of suicide in the United States are highest in middle-aged and older adults compared to younger age groups. These rates are alarming and point to the need for suicide prevention research in middle-aged and older adult populations. Depression is the most well-established independent risk factor for death by suicide. Some health conditions are also associated with risk of suicide above and beyond depression. Diabetes is often co-morbid with depression (clinical and subclinical depression). However, research examining diabetes and risk of suicide is less clear. In the current study, the first aim was to examine diabetes, vision impairment and depressive symptoms. Controlling for age, gender, marital status, weight and education, diabetes predicted depressive symptoms in a multiple linear regression. Impaired vision partially explained the association between diabetes and depressive symptoms. Additionally, marital status and gender both had an interaction effect in the relation between diabetes and depressive symptoms. The second aim examined diabetes and risk of suicide; however, due to low power, the findings could not be interpreted. Future studies should examine diabetes and risk of suicide with a larger U.S. sample of middle-aged and older adults. The diabetes-depressive symptoms findings are important when considering practice and policy related to mental health in middle-aged and older adult populations who are diagnosed with diabetes.