Suicide prevention and COVID-19
Department of Psychiatry
Infectious Disease | Mental and Social Health | Psychiatry | Psychiatry and Psychology | Virus Diseases
INTRODUCTION: Suicide prevention during Covid 19 has become a global priority because the current pandemic has led to societal difficulties threatening the fabric of our lifestyle with increased morbidity and mortality. Modelling studies published since the COVID 19 pandemic was declared in March 2020 estimate that suicide rates will increase by anywhere between 1% to 145% globally in response to the pandemic and action needs to be taken.
METHODS: A narrative literature review on high quality evidence sources limited to human studies and publications written in English language only has been used to examine the relationship of COVID 19 and existing mental illness or history of mental illness, suicide prevention strategies and changes in overall suicide rates.
RESULTS: A total of 39 papers are summarised and grouped using the headings aetiological factors, proposed interventions to increase access and national policies to provide a framework for suicide prevention during pandemics such as COVID 19. This review indicates that 1) investing in active labour market programmes will result in a decreased suicide rate during times of high unemployment 2) People in low paid and casual jobs require specific support because they are most financially vulnerable during a pandemic related crisis 3) Women require specific support during a pandemic because of the type of employment they have and because they often carry a greater proportion of the domestic burden and are at increased risk of domestic violence during lockdown and crisis 4) Mental health and substance misuse services need to be appropriately funded and prioritised during and post pandemic, due to the associated increase in substance misuse during a pandemic causing worsening mental health and increased risk of suicide 5) National Suicide Prevention Strategies should be developed by all countries and should anticipate response to a range of disasters, including a pandemic 6) Suicide prevention is everybody's business and National Suicide Prevention Strategies should adopt a whole-systems approach including mental health services, primary care, social care, NGO's and other community stakeholders 7) Suicide is preventable 8) It is essential to prioritise suicide prevention strategies in the COVID and post-COVID period to ensure that lives are saved.
DISCUSSION: Increase in suicide is not inevitable and suicide prevention during pandemics and post COVID 19 pandemics requires a collaborative whole system approach. We require real time data to inform dynamic action planning.
COVID-19, etiology, interventions, policy, suicide prevention
DOI of Published Version
Ivbijaro G, Kolkiewicz L, Goldberg D, N'jie INS, Edwards T, Riba MB, Švab I, Geller J, Enum Y. Suicide prevention and COVID-19. Asia Pac Psychiatry. 2021 Jun 11:e12482. doi: 10.1111/appy.12482. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 34114356. Link to article on publisher's site
Asia-Pacific psychiatry : official journal of the Pacific Rim College of Psychiatrists
Ivbijaro G, Kolkiewicz L, Goldberg D, N'jie IN, Edwards T, Riba MB, Svab I, Geller JL, Enum Y. (2021). Suicide prevention and COVID-19. COVID-19 Publications by UMass Chan Authors. https://doi.org/10.1111/appy.12482. Retrieved from https://escholarship.umassmed.edu/covid19/247