Background: Little is known about the suicide risk of older adults diagnosed with schizophrenia. The purpose of the study is to examine whether older adults diagnosed with schizophrenia have an elevated risk of dying by suicide, examine trends by age, and identify predictors of death by suicide.
Methods: Individual-level register data on all older adults aged 50+ living in Denmark during 1990-2006 (N=2,899,411) were assessed using survival analysis. The impact of predictors was adjusted for a series of socio-demographic and health-related covariates.
Results: In all, 248 suicides were identified among older adults diagnosed with schizophrenia. The suicide rate ratios of men and women aged 50-69years with a diagnosis of schizophrenia was 7.0 [95%CI: 5.8-8.4] and 13.7 [95%CI: 11.3-16.6], respectively, when compared to those with no diagnosis. With increasing age a lower rate ratio was found; for men and women aged 70+ it was 2.1 [95%CI: 1.1-3.9] and 3.4 [95%CI: 2.0-5.8], respectively. Adjusted analyses revealed an elevated risk of suicide for diagnoses of schizophrenia, greater number of hospitalizations, recent admission (for men), recent discharge, previous suicide attempt, recent suicide attempt, comorbidity of mood disorders, personality disorders, and substance abuse (for women).
Conclusions: We found an elevated mortality risk of suicide for both men and women aged 50years and over diagnosed with schizophrenia. Health care staff should be aware of elevated risk, particularly in older women diagnosed with schizophrenia, in relation to chronic disease courses, recent discharge, and suicide attempt.
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