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Can J Psychiatry. 2011 Apr;56(4):219-26.

Concordance of self- and proxy-reported suicide ideation in depressed adults 50 years of age or older.

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Departments of Psychiatry and Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry, The University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario.



To assess whether social supports (proxies) can detect the presence of suicide ideation in a clinical sample of depressed adults 50 years of age or older, and to additionally assess the potential impact of depression symptom severity on patient-proxy concordance in reports of patient suicide ideation.


Cross-sectional data were collected regarding Axis I diagnoses, severity of depressive symptoms, and suicide ideation in a clinical sample of 109 patients 50 years of age and older. Patients were administered study measures by trained interviewers. Patients' social supports completed proxy measures of these same variables. We assessed concordance in self- and proxy-reported suicide ideation, employing global suicide ideation items derived from depression scales and more fine-grained suicide ideation items drawn from multi-item suicide ideation measures. We investigated patient-proxy concordance regarding the presence of patient suicide ideation.


Patients who endorsed suicide ideation and were concordantly seen by their social supports to be suicidal reported significantly greater depressive symptom severity than patients concordantly reported to be nonsuicidal. Patients' social supports reported significantly less depressive symptom severity in patients who endorsed suicide ideation yet who did not appear to be suicidal to them.


Our findings suggest that family and friends can broadly ascertain the presence of suicide ideation in depressed middle-aged and older adults, yet in doing so may largely be responding to their broad perceptions of depressive symptom severity in patients and not specifically to the presence of suicidal thoughts.

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