Study cites need for stronger suicide prevention amid COVID-19 pandemic

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      It is well known that the mental health of Canadians has generally worsened because of COVID-19.

      A recent study dived deeper into the issue by looking at how the pandemic has affected people with different conditions.

      The subjects were grouped into three profiles, and researchers found one thing of concern.

      It’s that individuals with mental-health issues are greater odds of contemplating suicide than those who have no difficulties.

      The paper was authored by Michelle D. Guerrero and Joel D. Barnes with Statistics Canada.

      The document is titled “Profiles of mental health and their association with negative impacts and suicidal ideation during the COVID-19 pandemic: A Canadian perspective”.

      The investigation involved 22,721 adults.

      The subjects were classified into those having no mental-health difficulties or Profile 1, low-to-moderate (Profile 2), and severe (Profile 3).

      Guerrero and Barnes observed that 4.27 percent of individuals in Profile 2 and 19.09 percent in Profile 3 were more likely to have contemplated suicide since the pandemic started in 2020.

      For Profile 1 or those who have no mental-health challenges, the odds were 0.16 percent.

      Moreover, among people in Profile 3 or those with severe mental health difficulties, one in five had thought about suicide since the onset of the pandemic.

      “The current research provides evidence that individuals with mental health difficulties have been considerably impacted by the pandemic and that individuals with severe mental health difficulties have been hit the hardest,” Guerrero and Barnes wrote about their work.

      The study was published on August 18, 2022, and the authors have made a number of recommendations.

      The authors stated that mental-health professionals “need to be especially vigilant in monitoring symptoms of suicidal ideation among those suffering from severe mental health difficulties”.

      “Delivering treatments for suicidal ideation via telehealth may reduce COVID-19-related mental health consequences,” they continued.

      Moreover, “public health treatment strategies aimed at reducing suicidal behaviour should prioritize those experiencing multiple disorders”.

      “Findings in the current study also provide a strong argument for the adoption of analytical approaches that can uncover the nuanced impact of the pandemic on the lives of those with severe mental health difficulties,” Guerrero and Barnes wrote.

      If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, there are 24-hour help lines available.

      These include the Crisis Centre of B.C. and Talk Suicide Canada.