May 21, 2024
COVID-19 Lockdown

Significant Surge In Non-Lethal Suicidal Behaviors Following The COVID-19 Lockdown In Catalonia: A Comprehensive Study

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought about extensive debates regarding its influence on mental health, particularly concerning suicide rates. While global suicide statistics remained stable during the pandemic, the impact on non-lethal suicidal behaviors, such as ideation or attempted suicides that were survived, during and after the pandemic has not been thoroughly examined.

A recent study, spearheaded by Dr. Víctor Serrano-Gimeno from the Mental Health Research Group of the Sant Pau Research Institute (IR Sant Pau), sheds light on this issue. The study, published in The Lancet Psychiatry, examines data from a Catalan cohort from all hospitals in Catalonia, collected through the Catalan Suicide Risk Code. The data was analyzed in three periods: the pre-lockdown period (January 1, 2018, until the lockdown in Spain on March 14, 2020); the lockdown period (March 14, 2020, until the end of the lockdown on June 21, 2020); and the post-lockdown period (June 21, 2020, until December 31, 2022).

The findings reveal a slight increasing trend in non-lethal suicidal behaviors from January 1, 2018, until March 13, 2020. However, there was a reduction during the lockdown period, followed by a 50.77% increase after the lockdown measures. These results underscore the prolonged impact of the pandemic on the population’s mental health.

Dr. Serrano-Gimeno explains that this study offers a detailed examination of non-lethal suicidal behaviors in Catalonia, highlighting the dynamics of the different phases of the COVID-19 pandemic. The initial reduction during the strict quarantine may be attributed to limited access to suicide methods, among other reasons. The subsequent increase after the lockdown reflects complex factors, including social isolation and economic challenges.

Stratified data analyses indicated that the relaxation of the lockdown resulted in a significant increase in non-lethal suicidal behaviors among women, particularly in the 18 to 30 age group, and among minors under 18. These results underscore the need for preventive strategies targeted at these groups.

Dr. Maria Portella, head of the Mental Health Research Group at IR Sant Pau, emphasizes the importance of this study as it quantifies the suspected mental health issues during the pandemic. It highlights the need for a comprehensive approach to address suicidality as a crucial aspect of public health.

Dr. Narcís Cardoner, researcher from the Mental Health Research Group at IR Sant Pau and head of the Psychiatry Department at Sant Pau Hospital, adds that these results provide valuable insights for future situations. He notes that while physical health was prioritized during the pandemic, mental health was often overlooked. The study underscores the importance of adopting more holistic approaches to address the mental health implications of large-scale social phenomena.

The experts agree that the pandemic has served as a brutal stress test for an already fragile society, with mental health data suggesting a generalizable phenomenon worldwide. They emphasize the need for global measures to consider mental health as an integral part of overall health.

Dr. Cardoner concludes that the study’s findings demonstrate that the consequences of large-scale social phenomena are profound and must be addressed from a public health perspective, not just psychiatry.

1. Source: Coherent Market Insights, Public sources, Desk research
2. We have leveraged AI tools to mine information and compile it.