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Suicide among older people is one of the most rapidly emerging healthcare issues. The objective of this study was to identify the factors associated with suicide ideation in the aged population in South Korea.
The study recruited 684 subjects older than 65 years old (males = 147, females = 537, mean age = 78.20±7.02 years), and trained interviewers performed the interviews. The study was performed as part of a community mental health suicide prevention program. The subjects’ socio-demographic data, physical health, alcohol problems, social relationships, psychological well-being, and depression severity were all considered. The Korean version of the Beck Scale for Suicide Ideation (K-BSI) was used to evaluate the intensity of suicide ideation. Correlation and hierarchical multiple regression analyses were performed to identify the factors associated with the K-BSI. The study results were tested using a path analysis.
Depression severity was positively correlated with suicide ideation, and economic status, psychological well-being, and social relationships were negatively correlated with suicide ideation. Depression severity had the largest direct impact, and economic status and social relationships had indirect impacts on suicide ideation. Psychological well-being exerted both direct and indirect influences.
Depression severity was the most important predictor of suicide ideation among older people. Other direct and indirect factors played secondary roles. Effective suicide prevention strategies should focus on early detection and active intervention for depression. Socio-economic programs may also indirectly reduce suicide ideation among the aged population.
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