This study aimed to investigate the follow-up visit service in elderly citizens of the age 65 or over after screening in Taoyuan city.
Taoyuan City followed the Ministry of Health and Welfare, and implemented the Geriatric Depression Scale (GDS) into practice for quarterly reports since 2016. City health centers and hospitals used structured questionnaire for interview. Elderly citizens who scored 11 or over, and consented to follow-up interview service, are categorized as high suicide risk cases. Research tools included basic demographics and GDS.
The 2016 Community Elderly Mental Health Evaluation Screening had enrolled 34,385 participants, of which 22,249 came from the suburb health centers, whereas the remaining 12,136 came from hospitals and other non-governmental organizations. Of all the referred participants, there were 75 high-risk cases who agreed to follow-up service, of which 20 (26.6%) were referred by the health centers, and 55 (73.4%) came from hospitals and other non-governmental organizations. Of the 75 cases, 11 (14.6) were not followed due to either incomplete referral data, or they were already receiving suicide prevention services or mental healthcare services provided by Taoyuan City or other cities/counties. One case (9.09%) was referred by health center and 10 cases (90.9%) were referred by hospitals and other non-governmental organizations. The remaining 64 cases had received follow-up care service, of which 19 cases (29.6%) were referred by health centers and 45 cases (70.4%) were referred by hospitals and other non-governmental organizations. Follow-up results showed that among those who were visited, only 3 cases had persisting suicidal inclination and none died. Two cases of attempted suicide used sleeping pills. The reasons for the attempted suicides include substance abuse and workplace stress. One case had suicidal inclination due to incurable chronic disease. The results showed that early intervention to prevent depression in elderly could reduce cases of repeated suicide attempts.
Our study showed that referral to follow-up care visit service following screening is a protective against suicide. Early screening and intervention can reduce suicide rate. We hope the results of this study will be valuable in policy making on screening in the future.