OBJECTIVES: To compare older adults with late-life depression (LLD) and healthy controls in terms of suicidal ideation during the COVID-19 pandemic, and to determine predictors of suicidal ideation .
METHODS: Between March and April 2020, old adults diagnosed with major depressive disorder (single or recurrent episode) as defined by the DSM-5 were recruited from psychiatric clinics or inpatient wards, whereas 31 healthy older adults without a history of depression or other psychiatric illnesses were recruited from voluntary organisations or elderly community centres . Their depressive symptoms, perceived severity of the pandemic, perceived time spent on receiving related information, perceived health, levels of loneliness, perceived coping efficacy, suicidal ideation, and the level of symptomatic responses to a specific traumatic stressor in the past week were assessed .
RESULTS: In total, 21 men and 43 women aged 61 to 89 years were interviewed through telephone by trained research assistants . Of them, 33 were older adults with LLD (cases) and 31 were healthy older adults (controls). Older people with LLD had a higher level of suicidal ideation than healthy controls, after controlling for the level of depression and medical comorbidity (F (1 , 59) = 5.72, p = 0.020). Regression analyses showed that coping efficacy and loneliness accounted for a significant portion of the variance in suicidal ideation, and loneliness significantly predicted the level of stress . Mediation analyses reveal an indirect effect between group and suicidal ideation through coping efficacy (Z = 2.43, p = 0.015).
CONCLUSIONS: Older people with LLD are at increased suicidal risk and require timely mental health support . Coping efficacy and loneliness are important predictors for suicidal ideation and stress.
Index: Aged, COVID-19, Depression, Suicide