Poverty and suicide risk in older adults: A retrospective longitudinal cohort study

Jae Woo Choi, Tae Hyun Kim, Jaeyong Shin, Euna Han

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)


Objectives: We aimed to identify the impact of poverty on suicide risk in older adults. Method: The data used in this study was obtained from the National Health Insurance Service-Senior claims database from 2002 to 2013. A total of 558 147 individuals were followed for up to 12 years. Poverty was assessed from insurance premium levels, and causes of death were analysed by linking individuals' deaths to the data for causes of death from the National Statistics Office in South Korea. Cox proportional hazard models were used to analyse the associations between poverty and suicide deaths after adjustments for possible confounders. Results: Among 558 147 older adults (aged 60-119 years), the poverty group had an increased risk of suicide compared with the high-income group (adjusted hazard ratio [AHR], 1.34; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.22-1.47), and poverty-group males had a significantly higher risk of suicide than males in the high-income group (AHR, 1.50; 95% CI, 1.33-1.68). Adults aged 60 to 74 years in the poverty group had a higher risk of suicide than those with a high income in the same age group (AHR, 1.41; 95% CI, 1.27-1.57). However, no statistically significant income gradient was found for females or adults aged 75 years or older. Conclusions: Our findings revealed that poverty is a risk factor for death by suicide in older adults. Suicide prevention strategies for older adults should be specifically tailored by income level.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1565-1571
Number of pages7
JournalInternational Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 2019 Nov 1

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Research support from the National Research Foundation of Korea (grant number: 2019R1A2C1003259) is gratefully acknowledged. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official view of the Korea National Research Foundation. The Korea National Research Foundation had no involvement in the preparation and submission of this manuscript.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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