This work may not be copied, distributed, displayed, published, reproduced, transmitted, modified, posted, sold, licensed, or used for commercial purposes. By downloading this file, you are agreeing to the publisher’s Terms & Conditions.

Original Research

Pathways to Late-Life Suicidal Behavior: Cluster Analysis and Predictive Validation of Suicidal Behavior in a Sample of Older Adults With Major Depression

Katalin Szanto, MDa,*; Hanga Galfalvy, PhDb; Polina M. Vanyukov, PhDa; John G. Keilp, PhDb; and Alexandre Y. Dombrovski, MDa

Published: February 27, 2018

Article Abstract

Objective: Clinical heterogeneity is a key challenge to understanding suicidal risk, as different pathways to suicidal behavior are likely to exist. We aimed to identify such pathways by uncovering latent classes of late-life depression cases and relating them to prior and future suicidal behavior.

Methods: Data were collected from June 2010 to September 2015. In this longitudinal study we examined distinct associations of clinical and cognitive/decision-making factors with suicidal behavior in 194 older (50+ years) nondemented, depressed patients; 57 nonpsychiatric healthy controls provided benchmark data. The DSM-IV was used to establish diagnostic criteria. We identified multivariate patterns of risk factors, defining clusters based on personality traits, perceived social support, cognitive performance, and decision-making in an analysis blinded to participants’ history of suicidal behavior. We validated these clusters using past and prospective suicidal ideation and behavior.

Results: Of 5 clusters identified, 3 were associated with high risk for suicidal behavior: (1) cognitive deficits, dysfunctional personality, low social support, high willingness to delay future rewards, and overrepresentation of high-lethality attempters; (2) high-personality pathology (ie, low self-esteem), minimal or no cognitive deficits, and overrepresentation of low-lethality attempters and ideators; (3) cognitive deficits, inability to delay future rewards, and similar distribution of high- and low-lethality attempters. There were significant between-cluster differences in number (P < .001) and lethality (P = .002) of past suicide attempts and in the likelihood of future suicide attempts (P = .010, 30 attempts by 22 patients, 2 fatal) and emergency psychiatric hospitalizations to prevent suicide (P = .005, 31 participants).

Conclusions: Three pathways to suicidal behavior in older patients were found, marked by (1) very high levels of cognitive and dispositional risk factors suggesting a dementia prodrome, (2) dysfunctional personality traits, and (3) impulsive decision-making and cognitive deficits.

Volume: 79

Quick Links:

Continue Reading…

Subscribe to read the entire article


Buy this Article as a PDF