This study aimed to assess the prevalence, incidence, and persistence of suicidal ideation (SI), and to investigate the psychosocial factors associated with these.
A total of 1,204 community dwelling elderly adults aged 65 years or older were evaluated at baseline, 909 (75%) of whom were followed two years later. The presence of SI was identified using the questions from the community version of the Geriatric Mental State (GMS) diagnostic schedule (GMS B3) at both baseline and follow-up interviews. Baseline measures included demographic status, years of education, rural/urban residence, accommodation, past and current occupation, monthly income, marital status, stressful life events, social support deficits, number of physical illnesses, severity of pain, physical activity, disability, depressive symptoms, anxiety, insomnia, cognitive function, alcohol consumption, and smoking.
Baseline SI prevalence, follow-up incidence (SI rate at follow-up of 805 elderly subjects who did not have SI at baseline), and persistence (SI rate at follow-up of 104 elderly subjects who had SI at baseline) were 11.5%, 9.6%, and 36.5%, respectively. Baseline SI was independently associated with no current employment, lower monthly income, stressful life events, more severe pain, presence of disability, depressive symptoms, and smoking. Incident SI was independently predicted by baseline unmarried status, social support deficit, severe pain, presence of depressive symptoms, and smoking. Persistent SI was independently predicted by baseline stressful life events and depressive symptoms.
Depressive symptoms were independently associated with prevalent, incident, and persistent SI, but other predictors varied according to incidence and persistence outcomes.