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Front Psychiatry ; 12: 797601, 2021.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1581142


Aims: We aimed to determine whether there has been a change in the number of suicides occurring in three Australian states overall, and in age and sex subgroups, since the COVID-19 pandemic began, and to see if certain risk factors for suicide have become more prominent as likely underlying contributing factors for suicide. Method: Using real-time data from three state-based suicide registers, we ran multiple unadjusted and adjusted interrupted time series analyses to see if trends in monthly suicide counts changed after the pandemic began and whether there had been an increase in suicides where relationship breakdown, financial stressors, unemployment and homelessness were recorded. Results: Compared with the period before COVID-19, during the COVID-19 period there was no change in the number of suicides overall, or in any stratum-specific estimates except one. The exception was an increase in the number of young males who died by suicide in the COVID-19 period (adjusted RR 1.89 [95% CI 1.11-3.23]). The unadjusted analysis showed significant differences in suicide in the context of unemployment and relationship breakdown during the COVID-19 compared to the pre-COVID-19 period. Analysis showed an increase in the number of suicides occurring in the context of unemployment in the COVID-19 period (unadjusted RR 1.53 [95% CI 1.18-1.96]). In contrast, there was a decrease in the number of suicides occurring in the context of relationship breakdown in the COVID-19 period (unadjusted RR 0.82 [95% CI 0.67-0.99]). However, no significant changes were identified when the models were adjusted for possible over-dispersion, seasonality and non-linear trend. Conclusion: Although our analysis found no evidence of an overall increase in suicides after the pandemic began, the picture is complex. The identified increase in suicide in young men indicates that the impact of the pandemic is likely unevenly distributed across populations. The increase in suicides in the context of unemployment reinforces the vital need for mitigation measures during COVID-19, and for ongoing monitoring of suicide as the pandemic continues.

Aust N Z J Public Health ; 45(5): 517-522, 2021 Oct.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1305459


OBJECTIVE: To examine how the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and its consequences may have influenced suicide in Victoria, Australia. METHODS: A mixed methods study of consecutive Victorian suicide cases spanning 1 January 2015 to 31 January 2021. Interrupted time series analysis examined whether suicide frequency changed following the pandemic onset. Thematic analysis was undertaken of police reports in suicides linked with COVID-19 to try to understand how COVID-19 acted as a stressor. RESULTS: The frequency of Victorian suicides did not change following the onset of COVID-19. Sixty COVID-linked suicides were identified, featuring three recurring themes: COVID-19 as a disturbance in the self, in relationships with others and institutions. CONCLUSIONS: While COVID-19 has not led to an increase in Victorian suicide frequency to date, it is an important background stressor that can erode one's wellbeing, sense of agency and connectedness to others. Implications for public health: Clinical interventions that serve to reconnect people with a sense of agency and seek to re-establish contact with significant others are indicated. Clinicians should ensure they are familiar with pathways for their patients to access government social and economic supports. A better understanding of how government interventions may be lessening psychological distress is needed.

COVID-19/psychology , Suicide/trends , Adolescent , Adult , Aged , Aged, 80 and over , Female , Humans , Male , Middle Aged , Pandemics , Psychological Distress , Suicide/psychology , Victoria , Young Adult