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Previous studies have thoroughly investigated the prevalence and risk factors for completed suicide. In marked contrast is the lack of a better understanding of attempted suicide in the elderly. The aim of this study was to estimate the prevalence of attempted suicide in the elderly and examine the associated factors.
Using a multi-stage cluster sampling approach, a cross-sectional survey of 8,399 elderly house-dwelling residents was conducted in Shanghai, China.
The two-week prevalence of attempted suicide in the elderly was 0.75%. In the bivariate analysis, having no caregivers, depressive, anxiety, sad, fear, obsessive-compulsive and anger symptom, and lower scores on the Barthel Index of Activities of Daily Living and the Lawton Instrumental Activities of Daily Living Scale were significantly associated with an increased risk of attempted suicide in the elderly. In the multivariate analysis, sad and fear symptoms were significantly and independently associated with a higher risk of attempted suicide in the elderly.
The two-week prevalence of attempted suicide in the elderly is relatively high when compared with the annualized or lifetime prevalence reported in China and foreign settings. Elderly individuals with certain mental symptoms should be targeted for suicide prevention and provided with timely mental health support.
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