Mood Emot 2023 Nov; 21(3): 51-60
A 4-Year Observation of the Incidence of Depression and Suicide Among Older Adults from the Onset of the COVID-19
Seoung-Kyun Lee, MD1 , Bo-Hyun Yoon, MD, PhD1,2 , Kyungmin Kim, MD1 , Ha-Ran Jung, MD1 , Hangoeunbi Kang, MD1 , Yuran Jeong, MD1 , Hyunju Yun, MD1 , Jye-Heon Song, MD1 , Young-Hwa Sea, MD1 , Suhee Park, MD1
1Department of Psychiatry, Naju National Hospital, 2Jellanamdo Provincial Mental Health and Welfare Center, Naju, Korea
Correspondence to: Bo-Hyun Yoon, MD, PhD
Department of Psychiatry, Naju National Hospital, 1328-31 Senam-ro, Sanpo-myeon, Naju 58213, Korea
TEL +82-61-330-4101 FAX +82-61-330-5150 E-mail ORCID
Ha-Ran Jung, MD
Department of Psychiatry, Naju National Hospital, 1328-31 Senam-ro, Sanpo-myeon, Naju 58213, Korea
TEL +82-61-330-7732 FAX +82-61-330-7747 E-mail ORCID
Received: November 2, 2023; Accepted: November 3, 2023; Published online: November 30, 2023.
© Korean Society for Affective Disorders. All rights reserved.

This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License ( which permits unrestricted non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Background: This study aimed to examine the influence of the coronavirus disease pandemic 2019 (COVID-19) by comparing the incidences of depression, suicidal ideation, and suicidal attempts before and after the outbreak of the pandemic among community-dwelling older adults.
Methods: In total, 9,784 older adults were recruited from 22 counties in Jeollanam-do between 2019 and 2022. Self-reported questionnaires, including sociodemographic factors, suicidal ideation, suicidal attempt, and Geriatric Depression Scale-Short Form Korean version, were used.
Results: The proportion of the depression high-risk group tended to increase since the COVID-19 outbreak, increasing to 16.3%, 23.1%, and 25.7% in 2019, 2020, and 2021, respectively; however, decreased to 21.8% in 2022. The incidence of suicidal ideation showed a similar pattern. The incidence of suicidal attempts showed a different pattern, rising to 1.3% and 2.6% in 2019 and 2020, respectively and then falling to 1.1% and 0.8% in 2021 and 2022, respectively.
Conclusion: This study examined community-dwelling older adults and their mental states during the COVID-19 pandemic, and found that the risk of depression among older adults increased 1.708-fold in 2020, 1.877-fold in 2021, and 1.599-fold in 2022 compared to that in 2019, the year before the pandemic. Similarly, the risk of suicidal ideation increased by 1.582-fold in 2020, 1.913-fold in 2021, and 1.623-fold in 2022 compared with 2019 data. As the pandemic extended, mental health states improved; however, not to prepandemic levels. Suggesting that older people need continued support to alleviate the negative effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Keywords: COVID-19; Aged; Depression; Suicidal ideation; Korea

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