Impact of COVID-19 pandemic related lockdown on Suicide: Analysis of newspaper reports during pre-lockdown and lockdown period in Bangladesh and India

Asian J Psychiatr. 2021 Apr 15;60:102649. doi: 10.1016/j.ajp.2021.102649. Online ahead of print.


The economic and social devastation wrought by the COVID-19 crisiscoupled with the unavailability of traditional coping resources is a "perfect storm" for suicide. Evidence suggests that its impact may be disproportionately high in low-and-middle-income countries. The study aimed to assess and compare nature and correlates of suicidesfrom news reportsduring the immediate pre-lockdown and lockdown phase of COVID-19 in Bangladesh and India. We performed analysis of suicide reports from purposively selected online vernacular and English newspapers of Bangladesh and two states/union territory in India, between January to June 2020. We divided the time period of observation into two phases: pre-lockdown and lockdown phase. Country wise findings between the two phases were compared in terms of demographic and characteristics of the reported suicide. A total of 769 news reports wereanalysed; 141 from Bangladesh and 628 from India. When compared to the pre-lockdown period, the odds of suicide by hanging was significantly higher during lockdownin India (adjusted Odds Ratios [aOR] = 3.8, p = 0.018) and Bangladesh (aOR = 3.1, p = 0.048). Suicide demographics in India were different from Bangladesh during lockdown; more males died by suicide in India (aOR = 2.7, p = 0.023) and more people died by hanging (aOR = 2.6, p = 0.029). The pandemic restrictions impacted suicide demographics in the studied regions of India and Bangladesh. Further research using population-based time-series data are warranted to investigate the issue.

Keywords: Bangladesh; COVID-19; India; Newspaper report; Pandemic; Suicide.