Background: Prior studies have inadequately explored the relationship between late-life suicidal behavior and subclinical/clinical symptoms. This study aimed to assess the risk associated with subclinical symptoms, mild cognitive impairment and clinical factors among late-life suicide attempters. Method: Forty-three elderly patients aged 60 years and older who sought emergency services in a university-affiliated general hospital for attempting suicide and 43 comparison subjects participated in this study between March 2005 and December 2006. The comparison group was recruited by advertising in the community around the hospital. DSM-IV based diagnostic interview and screening instruments including the GDS, MMSE, BSRS-5 and APGAR were applied. Adjusted odds ratios were measured in the final multiple logistic regression model. Results: Suicide attempters were more likely to meet a diagnosis of depressive disorder, after adjustments for BSRS-5 score and drinking habit. The adjusted odds of suicide among people with a BSRS-5 score of more than 5 points was 17.8 times higher than those with the BSRS score less than or equal to 5 points. Conclusions: Our findings support the significant impact on late-life suicidal behavior from the assessment of subclinical symptoms, including anxiety, depression, hostility, sleep condition and interpersonal symptoms. The assessment of subclinical symptoms by the BSRS-5 may help in the future prevention of late-life suicidal behavior in primary care settings.
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