Year: 2019 Source: Comprehensive Psychiatry. (2019). 89:67-77. SIEC No: 20190552

Despite heterogeneity of older people in suicidal behavior, research identifying characteristics by age groups is scarce. We examined baseline features of older community-dwelling suicidal ideators by dichotomized age groups and the 6-month trajectory of their suicidal ideation along with its related psychopathology. Predictors of suicidal ideation within each group were investigated.
Older community-dwelling suicidal ideators enrolled in the Korean Cohort for the Model Predicting a Suicide and Suicide-related Behavior study were subdivided into the “young-old (65–74 years)” and “old-old (≥75 years)” group. Baseline, 1-, and 6-month assessments were compared. Within each group, multiple regression analysis using rating scales (Patient Health Questionnaire-9, Beck Anxiety Inventory, Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test, Stress Questionnaire for Korean National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey-Short Form, and Social Relationships Scale) was conducted to identify predictors of suicidal ideation measured with the intensity subscale of the Columbia-Suicide Severity Rating Scale. Two-way repeated-measures analysis of variance (RM-ANOVA) was used to compare changes in suicidal ideation, depression, anxiety between age groups over time, and one-way RM-ANOVA to examine changes within each age group.
Among 29 “young-old” and 53 “old-old” ideators, the latter were less likely to be receiving psychiatric treatment (odds ratio [OR] = 4.065) and make suicide attempts (OR = 2.874), whereas the former revealed greater levels of anxiety and stress. Baseline depression and stress in the “young-old” group and the “old-old” group, respectively, predicted the intensity of suicidal ideation at both baseline and 1-month assessments. No significant age group x time interactions on suicidal ideation and depression were found. However, within each age group, both suicidal ideation and depression significantly decreased only during the first month with no further improvement.
We speculate cautiously that more attention may need to be paid to the “old-old” ideators in the evaluation of psychiatric issues and for referral to psychiatrists. To decrease suicidal ideation, tailored approaches involving proactive, timely management of depression in the “young-old” and interventions focusing on stress reduction in the “old-old,” would be helpful.