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European Neuropsychopharmacology ; 53:S419, 2021.
Article in English | EMBASE | ID: covidwho-1592736


Background. Notwithstanding predictions of increase in suicide risk related to the current pandemic [1,2], as was the case in previous pandemics [3], so far there is no clear evidence of increased rates of suicide, self-harm, suicide attempts, or suicidal thoughts associated with the COVID-19 pandemic [4]. An increase in suicide deaths after the initial decline in the pandemic ourbreak has been described in Japan [5]. Objective. We assessed the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on trends in suicide mortality and suicidal behavior (SB) in Cantabria (Spain). Methods. Data collection: suicide mortalities by the Institute of Forensic Medicine of Cantabria (IML) and SB (suicidal ideation, or suicide attempt defined as any self-injurious act with at least some intent to die) by Emergency Department (ED) visits using triage data from the electronic health care records of University Hospital Valdecilla (HUMV, reference hospital for all psychiatric emergencies in Cantabria, Spain). Collection period: January-2015 to December-2020. Data are analyzed in three different COVID-19 pandemic periods (outbreak and lockdown: March–June;return to quasi-normality and second wave: July-September;third wave: October-December) compared to those same quarters of the previous five years. Since we exclusively used available aggregate data in this study, formal ethical review was not required. Results. Since 2015, there has been an increasing trend of admissions to the ED of HUMV for SB, having almost tripled between 2015-2019 (88 vs 249). During 2020, visits for SB decreased by more than 30% in comparison with the previous year (173 vs 249). This decline started in March with the onset of the covid-19 pandemic. Previously in the first quarter of the year there were 35% more consultations for SB than 2019. On the contrary, during lockdown (second quarter) SB visits were one third of those in the same period of 2019. Although the third and fourth quarters of 2020 see a doubling of visits compared to the containment period, the number of visits in both quarters is between 60-65% of those in 2019. In 2020, suicides have dropped compared to 2019, both in absolute numbers (46 vs. 52) and rates per-100,000 inhabitants (7.89 vs. 8.95). In the first quarter of 2020 there were 19 suicides (7 more versus 2019), but during lockdown there were only 8 (12 less than in the same period 2019). Conclusions. In Cantabria (Spain), no increase in suicide or SB has been observed related to the pandemic. Conversely, in 2020 we found a decrease in both, consultations for SB and deaths by suicide, compared to 2019. The decrease in suicides and SB has been observed in all periods of Covid-19 pandemic (outbreak and lockdown;quasi-normality and second wave;third wave). Suicide data are difficult to collect in real time and the economic effects of the pandemic are still evolving. Preventive strategies will need to be developed to cope the possible increase in suicide and SB when current social protective measures are discontinued.No conflict of interest