Suicide rates are high among elderly individuals experiencing socioeconomic insecurity. Socioeconomic security is of critical importance for elderly individuals and directly affects mental health, including suicidal behavior. Thus, we investigated the relationship between socioeconomic status and suicidal ideation in elderly individuals.
We conducted a cross-sectional study using data on 58,590 individuals 65 years of age or older from the Korean Community Health Survey 2013. Logistic regression analysis was used to identify relationships between socioeconomic factors (food insecurity, household income, and living arrangement) and suicidal ideation in the elderly population.
The study included 58,590 participants (24,246 males and 34,344 females). Of those, 2,847 males and 6,418 females experienced suicidal ideation. Participants with food insecure were more likely to experience suicidal ideation than were those who were food secure (males: OR = 1.60; 95% CI, 1.34–1.90; females: OR = 1.54; 95% CI, 1.38–1.72). We found a similar pattern among participants with a low household income and those living alone. Additionally, male and female subjects who were food insecure and living alone or food insecure and had a low household income showed a marked increase in suicidal ideation.
Our findings suggest that low socioeconomic status is associated with an increased risk of suicidal ideation among the elderly. Furthermore, intervention programs that address the prevalence of elderly suicide, particularly among those who are socioeconomically disadvantaged, are needed.
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