The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on suicide rates

QJM. 2020 Oct 1;113(10):707-712. doi: 10.1093/qjmed/hcaa202.

Abstract

Multiple lines of evidence indicate that the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has profound psychological and social effects. The psychological sequelae of the pandemic will probably persist for months and years to come. Studies indicate that the COVID-19 pandemic is associated with distress, anxiety, fear of contagion, depression and insomnia in the general population and among healthcare professionals. Social isolation, anxiety, fear of contagion, uncertainty, chronic stress and economic difficulties may lead to the development or exacerbation of depressive, anxiety, substance use and other psychiatric disorders in vulnerable populations including individuals with pre-existing psychiatric disorders and people who reside in high COVID-19 prevalence areas. Stress-related psychiatric conditions including mood and substance use disorders are associated with suicidal behavior. COVID-19 survivors may also be at elevated suicide risk. The COVID-19 crisis may increase suicide rates during and after the pandemic. Mental health consequences of the COVID-19 crisis including suicidal behavior are likely to be present for a long time and peak later than the actual pandemic. To reduce suicides during the COVID-19 crisis, it is imperative to decrease stress, anxiety, fears and loneliness in the general population. There should be traditional and social media campaigns to promote mental health and reduce distress. Active outreach is necessary, especially for people with a history of psychiatric disorders, COVID-19 survivors and older adults. Research studies are needed of how mental health consequences can be mitigated during and after the COVID-19 pandemic.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Betacoronavirus
  • COVID-19
  • Coronavirus Infections* / epidemiology
  • Coronavirus Infections* / psychology
  • Humans
  • Mental Health / trends*
  • Needs Assessment
  • Pandemics*
  • Pneumonia, Viral* / epidemiology
  • Pneumonia, Viral* / psychology
  • Psychosocial Support Systems
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Stress, Psychological* / epidemiology
  • Stress, Psychological* / prevention & control
  • Suicide* / prevention & control
  • Suicide* / psychology