Preventing suicide during and after the COVID-19 pandemic
The World Health Organization (WHO) presented an analysis of suicide based on data received from 183 Member States. According to this analysis, suicide is the second leading cause of death among people aged 15-24 and with a rate of 10.5 per 100,000 inhabitants in the general population. It has been observed that during crises (natural disasters, wars, pandemics) the suicide rate may decrease, and after the crisis the suicide rate increases again.
To prevent the high suicide rate that can occur after the COVID-19 pandemic, it is important to have strategies in place to help people in need. Each of us can be affected by the current context, both in terms of physical and mental health but also economically and socially. Some consequences of pandemic stress are sleep problems, insomnia, anxiety, depression and suicide. They can be generated by concerns for the future, the possibility of not having a job, etc. and can negatively affect mental health both during and after the pandemic. This can lead to an increased suicide rate.
Protect yourself and be helpful to others. Helping others when they need it is beneficial for the person receiving support as well as for the person providing it. For example, contact your neighbours or people in your community who may need additional help. If you notice that someone around you may need help with substances or behavioral addiction, the online platform Guide to Rehab will help you find therapists in the UK who offer detox and recovery treatment. Restoring hope and offering support is part of the recovery treatment. Working together as a community we can help create solidarity in the COVID-19 approach.
If you have pre-existing health problems, make sure you have access to any medications you are currently using. Activate social contacts to assist if needed. Be prepared and find out in advance where and how you can get help, if needed, such as calling a taxi, delivering food, and seeking medical care.
Protective factors against suicide
A report on behalf of the WPA (World Psychiatric Association) Suicide Department by Danuta Wasserman, provides professionals, healthcare providers, policymakers and governments with an analysis of how the pandemic affects the risk and protective factors of suicide. Danuta Wasserman is a professor in psychiatry and suicidology at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm and director of WHO Collaboration Center.
In terms of relationships, the factors that protect against suicide are:
- Strong personal relationships. In the context of the pandemic, interpersonal relationships can be improved by finding new ways to connect with others or by having more time for them. On the other hand, the pandemic reduces the opportunities for activities with loved ones or sharing common experiences.
At the individual level, the protection factors are:
- General lifestyle skills: problem-solving, positive coping, adaptability, well-being. In the context of the pandemic, these skills lead to awareness of self-care strategies and positive coping methods, using media and online support. Moreover, the current context has brought to the fore the methods of positive coping for people to be able to focus on self-care and well-being.
- Religiosity and spirituality. The current context has allowed many people to spend more time practising religious and spiritual customs at home; on the other hand, the epidemiological context has reduced access to the religious community.
People may stop seeking help for the mental health difficulties they face during Covid-19 situation, due to both isolation and stigma. If you or someone close are experiencing intolerable emotional pain or suicidal thoughts, the online therapy platform Guide to Rehab is at your disposal to find the most suitable therapists in the UK for your problem.