Suicidal ideation among elderly homecare patients

Patrick J. Raue, Barnett S. Meyers, Jennifer L. Rowe, Moonseong Heo, Martha L. Bruce

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

74 Scopus citations


Objectives: To identify the prevalence, correlates, and one-year naturalistic course of suicidal ideation in a representative sample of elderly adults newly admitted to visiting nurse homecare. Method: Five hundred and thirty-nine participants (aged ≥65), newly initiating homecare for skilled nursing services, were interviewed with the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV (SCID-IV) and measures of depression severity, medical comorbidity, functional status, and social support. Participants were classified as having no suicidal ideation in the past month, passive ideation, active ideation, or active ideation with poor impulse control or suicide plan. Results: Fifty-seven participants (10.6%) reported passive and six (1.2%) reported active suicidal ideation. Higher depression severity, greater medical comorbidity, and lower subjective social support were independently associated with the presence of any level of suicidal ideation. At one year, suicidal ideation persisted for 36.7% of those with ideation at baseline, and the incidence of suicide ideation was 5.4% Conclusions: The high prevalence, persistence, and incidence of suicidal ideation in medically ill home healthcare patients underscore the relevance of this population for suicide prevention efforts. The clinical and psychosocial factors associated with suicidal ideation in this underserved, high-risk population are potentially modifiable, and thus useful targets for suicide prevention interventions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)32-37
Number of pages6
JournalInternational Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2007


  • Depression
  • Geriatrics
  • Home healthcare
  • Suicidal ideation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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