Objective: Population-based suicidal screening can be an important intervention method to reduce suicidal attempt rate in community. However, directly asking about suicidal behavior may be burdensome to non-mental health workers. This study aimed to evaluate the clinical usefulness of the Geriatric Depression Scale-15 (GDS-15) in identifying the elderly at risk of suicide in community.
Methods: Nine hundred forty-eight over 60 years of age participated in this study. All participants completed the GDS-15. A trained interviewer interviewed each participant for suicidality including suicidal ideation, plan, and prior attempt using the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV.
Results: When the cut-off score of 10 in the GDS-15 was applied to identify the elderly at risk of suicide, the proportion of directly asking about suicidal behavior by non-mental health workers was reduced by 33.1%; however, 19.5% at risk of suicide were missed. When the cut-off was changed to 6, 100% at risk of suicide were covered by the GDS-15.
Conclusion: Screening for suicidality using GDS-15 is a promising way to reduce the proportion of directly asking about suicidal behavior by non-mental health workers among the high-risk suicidal elderly in a community setting.