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Am J Geriatr Psychiatry. 2019 Jul 2. pii: S1064-7481(19)30422-1. doi: 10.1016/j.jagp.2019.06.015. [Epub ahead of print]

Beyond Depression: Estimating 12-Months Prevalence of Passive Suicidal Ideation in Mid- and Late-Life in the Health and Retirement Study.

Author information

1
Department of Epidemiology (LD, VK, BM), University of Michigan School of Public Health, Ann Arbor, MI.
2
Research Center for Group Dynamics (RG, BM), Institute for Social Research, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI; Department of Psychology (RG), University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI.
3
Department of Epidemiology (LD, VK, BM), University of Michigan School of Public Health, Ann Arbor, MI; Research Center for Group Dynamics (RG, BM), Institute for Social Research, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI. Electronic address: bmezuk@umich.edu.

Abstract

OBJECTIVES:

To provide valid estimates of the 12-month prevalence of passive suicidal ideation among older adults, without conditioning on depression status, using the Health and Retirement Study (HRS).

METHODS:

Data come from the 2012 HRS (n = 17,434) and 2004/5 Baltimore Epidemiologic Catchment Area (ECA) Study (n = 755). In the HRS, passive suicidal ideation (i.e., thought a lot about death-your own, someone else's, or death in general) is only assessed on respondents who reported dysphoria/anhedonia; in the ECA, ideation is assessed on all respondents, regardless of depression. We compare two approaches to estimating the 12-month prevalence of passive suicidal ideation in the HRS without conditioning on depression symptoms: 1) a probit selection model within the HRS, and 2) a prediction model developed using appended ECA data applied to the HRS.

RESULTS:

Using observed data alone on those who screened positive for depression, 6% of older adults reported passive suicidal ideation in the past year. Depending on the approach used, between 5.4% and 9.2% of HRS respondents who screened negative for depression would have reported passive suicidal ideation had they been assessed. Correcting for this selection bias, between 10.9% and 13.4% of U.S. adults over age 50 experienced passive suicidal ideation in 2012.

CONCLUSIONS:

Population surveillance of suicidal ideation among older adults is biased by survey approaches that only assess ideation in the context of depression.

KEYWORDS:

Aging; depression; population-based; suicide; surveillance

PMID:
31353189
DOI:
10.1016/j.jagp.2019.06.015

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