Suicide Prevention in the COVID-19 Era: Transforming Threat Into Opportunity: Understanding the phenomena of suicidal ideation in the COVID-19 Era for suicidal prevention strategy

Simon Lam

Research output: Journal article publicationReview articleAcademic researchpeer-review

28 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

IMPORTANCE Suicide, a leading cause of death with devastating emotional and societal costs, is a generally preventable cause of death and a critical global public health issue. The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic may increase the risk of population suicide through its effects on a number of well-established suicide risk factors. OBSERVATIONS Prior to the pandemic, many countries were engaging in suicide prevention strategies, and although the overall global burden of suicide deaths has increased, some national efforts were beginning to see positive results. Additionally, the gap between mental health needs and services has been increasing in many nations. With the added physical and mental health, social, and economic burdens imposed by the pandemic, many populations worldwide may experience increased suicide risk. Data and recent events during the first 6 months of the pandemic reveal specific effects on suicide risk. However, increases in suicide rates are not a foregone conclusion even with the negative effects of the pandemic. In fact, emerging suicide data from several countries show no evidence of an increase in suicide during the pandemic thus far. There are actionable steps that policy makers, health care leaders, and organizational leaders can take to mitigate suicide risk during and after the pandemic. CONCLUSIONS AND RELEVANCE COVID-19 presents a new and urgent opportunity to focus political will, federal investments, and global community on the vital imperative of suicide prevention. Suicide prevention in the COVID-19 era requires addressing not only pandemic-specific suicide risk factors, but also prepandemic risk factors. This Special Communication provides prioritized, evidence-based strategies for clinicians and health care delivery systems, along with national and local policy and educational initiatives tailored to the COVID-19 environment. If implemented to scale, these interventions could significantly mitigate the pandemic's negative effects on suicide risk.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages2
JournalJAMA Psychiatry
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 21 Oct 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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