The surprising impact of the pandemic on suicide rates (2023)

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Suicide rates tend to drop in times of crisis. Why?

DoorClancy'ego Martina
The surprising impact of the pandemic on suicide rates (1)
(Video) Pandemic impact on mental health and suicide rates

Updated at 9:25 a.m. ET May 12, 2023

If you are having suicidal thoughts, know that you are not alone. If you are at risk of acting out due to suicidal thoughts, call 911. For support and resources, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988 or text 741-741 for help with crisis text lines.

andin March 2020, my partner, Amie; our two-year-old son Ratna; and I, who usually live in Kansas City, Missouri, were visiting Kerala, India just before the country's first outbreak of COVID. When it became clear that Kerala would be closed, we drove as fast as we could along the coast and boarded a plane to Delhi. From there we headed towards the most remote place we knew - to the small village of Bir, located at the foot of the Himalayas.

(Video) Suicide Prevention: The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on suicide and self-harm

On the way, we were almost turned back at a series of police checkpoints. where? It was never clear. Hotels and Airbnbs turned away foreigners. Rumors surfaced on WhatsApp that other migrants were being held in camps.

The Airbnb host, who was reluctant at first, welcomed us just a few days before the nationwide lockdown went into effect. "Honestly, I shouldn't have let you stay," he told me. "But you can't leave now."

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For the next four months, my family and I lived in a place where outsiders like us were the source of the virus. On the rare occasions when I went shopping (the diapers couldn't wait), I was once scolded and spat on. Another time, while I was waiting for products, I was kicked out of line and told that the meals were for locals only. I was constantly afraid that I wouldn't be able to feed my wife and son or that the police would take us to a refugee camp.

I tried to commit suicidemore than 10 times in a lifetimeand wanting to commit suicide is one of my earliest memories. My adult life was a constant struggle with addictions, depression, anxiety, chronic suicidal thoughts and suicide attempts. However, in Bir, despite the terrible uncertainty of our time, I never seriously thought about suicide. I was scared, but not depressed. I was panicking about the outside world, but my inner world - so often the source of unhappiness - was relatively calm. My next major depression didn't come until a year after we returned home. Judging by my mental state, the start of the coronavirus pandemic was one of the best moments of my life. Apparently I'm not the only one who feels that way.

Dw 2020 r-wNAS.I inmany other countries— The suicide rate fell slightly, reversing a decades-long trend. We learned that this is a pattern: suicide rates tend to fall in times of crisis. The sharpestreductionin the United States, suicide rates once recorded occurred during World War II; terrorist attacks and other disasters also reduced suicide rates.

But now they are growing again. This is also part of the pattern. For example, in the months immediately following the 2011 earthquake in Japan, suicide rates fell compared to figures in the years before the earthquake, and rose significantly afterward.

It is worth noting that suicide rates did not fall everywhere during the coronavirus pandemic. Around the world,suicide rateswere generally lower than expected, and suicide ratesWent downin many countries, but it is more common in men and only slightly in women. In some countries there has been an increase in the suicide rate of women. A study conducted in Japan showed that the suicide rate among people from 10 to 19 years oldRoosin the first months of the pandemic. In Maryland, onetestfound that the suicide rate among whites fell by 45 percent in the first few months of the pandemic, but rose by 94 percent among the black population. The number of suicides seems to have increasedamong minority groupsin the United States — particularly in black, Hispanic, and Asian communities — that were experiencing alarming growth even before the pandemic.

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Although the overall decline in suicides in 2020, the first year of COVID, is uneven, it offers important lessons for dealing with suicide, both at the individual and political levels. The key to learning these lessons is figuring out why suicide rates have fallen in the first place.

Maria A. Oquendo, former national president of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention,offeredthree hypotheses why suicide rates fall after public disasters. First, crises promote "community cohesion," which mitigates suicide. Another: "Individuals are becoming more outward-looking." Third: "Common suffering makes personal suffering more bearable." They are not mutually exclusive and each has evidence to recommend them. All three resonate with my own experience.

I will start with the idea of ​​community cohesion. At least since Emile Durkheim's 1897 masterpieceSuicide, we believed that one of the best ways to reduce suicides was to create a sense of belonging in our communities.A lots ofstudiesconfirmed this fact as well as his ownreciprocal: Living without a partner, few social networks, and little involvement in social activities correspond to high rates of suicidal thoughts, suicide attempts, and deaths by suicide. The reason for middle-aged and older menhave tendenciesloneliness and lack of social connection appear to be a greater risk of suicide.

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Samoubojica Craig BryanassumedSuicide rates may have fallen during the pandemic as many people spent more time with loved ones by staying at home. Even for those who didn't have loved ones nearby, there was a sense of collective suffering that gave many of us a sense of belonging. As Albert Camus wrote in his novel about another pandemic: "The plague has caught us all." Our isolation is, ironically,Ordinary.

My wife, my son and I certainly didn't feel a part of Bir, but when we emailed our concerns to one of the community leaders, he immediately replied, "Don't worry, we'll all take care of ourselves." This happened when the initial shock wore off. The owner of the hotel where we stayed last year brought us boxes of canned milk; a friend of a friend brought us food from his garden and honey from his bees; another friend found us a house to stay in higher up in the mountains where we could roam freely.

This concern extended far beyond Bir. I felt especially close to my students at Ashoka University and the University of Missouri in Kansas City, even though our classes were held on Zoom. I've been talking and texting my daughters in the US a lot more than before the pandemic, when I was still on a business trip. We all knew we needed each other; we were scared and didn't know what would happen next. Needing others - and being neededit was a source of deep meaning and comfort.

Now the "outward facing" statement: For many, the pandemic has forced us to look outward. I must say here that suicide is not the result of navel gazing. On the contrary, one effective way to treat suicidal ideation - dialectical behavior therapy - assumes that self-reflection is the cure, not the cause. Still, the fact that the pandemic forced us to face an external threat together seems to be one of the best explanations for why suicide rates have fallen. A lots ofmost dangerous nationshave relatively low suicide rates in the world: annuallysuicide ratein Afghanistan there are six suicides per 100,000 people; in Honduras, 2.6. In 2021, America had 14.5.

(Video) Suicide rates drop during pandemic: what is behind the numbers?

Turning my attention to the outside world during the pandemic made me realize and accept that I had no control over what happened next. Living in a state of unpredictable crisis, I had to give up my usual restless desire to determine (or, unfortunately, not determine) the course of my future. In a way, my life wasn'tMineto live at all; this was the life that COVID decided to give me. Life looked me right in the face and said, "I'm driving now. What are you going to do about it? If I had to deal with this alone, I might use my default solution:Well, I'm just going to try to take my own life. But since we had all faced the question together, I felt more up to the challenge.

This leads to the claim that the societal suffering caused by the pandemic has made individual suffering more bearable. I am freed from the usual dark premonitions I have, the certainty that I will somehow mess things up or that I will inadvertently expose myself and the people I love to terrible terror. Whatever happened, it probably wouldn't be my fault; it has happened to most or all of us. So I had to - well, to be more precise, I thought I could - just wait and see what happens next. I had to learn a special kind of patience. It's not that I became a patient person (I could only wish it), but that one kind of impatience - my impatience with myself and the way I was handling my life - was no longer sustainable or even psychologically relevant.

I can't stress enough how helpful it is to teach this kind of patience to someone who is chronically suicidal. The impossibility of waiting, or the suspicion that waiting is futile, lies behind the suicidal impulse. I'm not the first to notice. Suicide of James Hillmancalledsuicide "desire for a quick change". Musician Alison MosshartHe saidof her friend Anthony Bourdain: "His impatience was fucking hilarious... When you're such a big character... every time you have to wait, your brain explodes." Edward livehe addsin his novelSuicidewhich he handed over to his publisher shortly before his suicide: "Your impatience has robbed you of the art of success through boredom."

Tto the factsuicide rates are nowgrowingagain, especially among young people and in black communities, we should not be surprised. Trauma is knownit gets worsemental health and increased suicide and suicide attempts. Regardless of the pandemic's short-term benefits, its lasting legacy is reminiscent of global post-traumatic stress disorder. Mental Health America, an organization that offers free, voluntary mental health screeningsreportedthat the number of people completing the questionnaires tripled between 2019 and 2020. Fifty-one percent of children aged 11 to 17 who took part in the 2020 screening reported frequent suicidal thoughts.

Other factors are also important: after the pandemic, of course, we will return to the habits that changed when we all went through the crisis together. Community cohesion, outward orientation and a sense of community suffering are disappearing. In addition, suicides can now occur that might otherwise occur during a pandemic. Regardless of the reasons, the need for mental health care is great and clear.

Fortunately, we can learn a few simple lessons from the pandemic's surprisingly beneficial effects on mental health. Now is a good time to work on building community cohesion, especially among vulnerable groups. A good example is the Bandana project, which develops care for students' mental health among their peers. Those of us, like myself, who have chronic suicidal thoughts remember that turning our attention outward to the well-being of others—through something as simple as volunteering at a local homeless shelter or community garden—can have profound psychological health benefits. . And just being willing to open up to the people in your life about mental health issues so they know they can talk honestly and safely with you about your own challenges benefits both your mental health and the mental health of others. people you care about. When we know we suffer together and not alone, we fight stigma, reduce shame and reduce the pressure of often isolating mental health issues.

Addressing the impact of the pandemic on mental health will require the same resources we needed to fight the virus itself: primarily money and training for health workers. Many teenagers try to commit suicideyou have to waitdays or even weeks for help, if they get it at all. Many teenagers who end up in the emergency room go 24 or 48 hours without seeing a trained mental health professional.

Solving this problem will require major governmental and institutional commitments. But I think that COVID reminded me that we can help individually. One of the most effective treatments for suicidal ideation is simplicityto talkwith people who struggle. Ask the person you are worried about how they are feeling. Do not try to solve the problem. Let them discuss it. Talking about suicide doesn't plant seeds; brings relief. And for those of us who often have suicidal thoughts, we can help ourselves (although you should also always seek help if you can). For me, that means constantly trying to put into practice the lessons that the pandemic has forced me to learn.

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And most importantly, it wasn't really a lesson. That was the question. The pandemic has shown me that life asks me, all of us, one question above all: will you stay? Will you wait with us? As John Donne wrote a year before the plague ravaged Britain: “No man is an island; each person is part of the continent, part of the most important; when the sea washes away the lump, Europe is smaller." The person who did not commit suicide during the coronavirus pandemic was the second person to survive. They helped the rest of us. And they should be proud of that.

This article was originally mistitled by Maria A. Oquendo and falsely suggested that Turkey is one of the most dangerous countries in the world.


Who has the highest suicide rate in the world? ›

Countries with the Highest Suicide Rates
  • Lesotho - 72.4.
  • Guyana - 40.3.
  • Eswatini - 29.4.
  • South Korea - 28.6.
  • Kiribati - 28.3.
  • Federated States of Micronesia - 28.2.
  • Lithuania - 26.1.
  • Suriname - 25.4.

What is the suicide rate in the world? ›

About 750000 suicide deaths were recorded in 2019 across the world. Globally, the rate of suicide mortality in 2019 was 9.0/100000 for both sexes together (12.6 in males vs 5.4 in females).

How many suicidal deaths in India? ›

The suicide rate jumped to 11.3 in 2020 and was at a record high at 12 in 2021. A lot has changed in India since the Covid-19 pandemic. Alongside more than half a million people who died after getting infected by the virus, data show that in 2020 and 2021 combined, 3.17 lakh people died by suicide.

How many suicidal deaths in 2023 in India? ›

India Suicide Rate 2000-2023
Similar Country Ranking
Country NameTotal
Sri Lanka14.00
Cabo Verde12.90
41 more rows

What country has lowest suicide rate? ›

Barbados, Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Grenada, and Jamaica are the countries with the lowest suicide rates. The WHO aims to encourage and support countries to develop and strengthen suicide prevention strategies in a multisectoral public health approach.

What profession has the highest suicide rate? ›

So what are the jobs with highest suicide rates?
  1. Medical Doctors.
  2. Dentists.
  3. Police Officers.
  4. Veterinarians.
  5. Financial Services.
  6. Real Estate Agents.
  7. Electricians.
  8. Lawyers.
Sep 15, 2022

What are the top suicidal places in the world? ›

Most frequently used locations

Prince Edward Viaduct, Toronto, Ontario, Canada – 492 suicides before the Luminous Veil, a barrier of 9,000 steel rods, was constructed in 2003. Aokigahara forest, Mount Fuji, Japan – as many as 105 suicides a year, though the number may be higher.

What city has the highest suicide rate? ›

Casper, Wyo., is the city with the highest suicide rate in the U.S., according to financial website WalletHub. The data is part of WalletHub's research in ranking the "Happiest Cities in America" for 2023.

What is the suicide rate in Japan? ›

The number of suicides in Japan in 2022 totaled 21,881, an increase of 297 from the previous year. The suicide rate, or number of suicides per 100,000 people, increased by 0.8 to 17.5. This data was compiled by the Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare based on statistics from the National Police Agency.

How many students suicidal deaths in India per day? ›

As per National Crime Records Bureau's (NCRB) Accidental Deaths & Suicides in India (ADSI) report, over 13,000 students died in 2021 in India at the rate of more than 35 every day, a rise of 4.5 per cent from the 12,526 deaths in 2020 with 864 out of 10,732 suicides being due to “failure in examination.”

Which is the most suicidal state in India? ›

States by Suicide Rate
RankStateSuicide Rate (Per 1 Lakh) 2020
4Tamil Nadu22.2
32 more rows

Is the US suicide rate higher than Japan? ›

The total number of deaths from suicide was 31,413 (22,402 males and 9,011 females) in Japan and 29,180 (23,443 males and 5,737 females) in the United States.

Where does Japan rank in suicides? ›

However, on a global scale, Japan ranks lower on the suicide rate in 49th place, having a lower rate of suicides compared to some other developed nations. Graphs are temporarily unavailable due to technical issues.

What jobs have the lowest suicide rates? ›

Managers were found to have the lowest risk of suicide.

Which military branch has most suicides? ›

The Army

Which branch of medicine has the highest suicide rate? ›

Across medical specialties, psychiatry has the highest suicide rate, stemming in partfrom greater rates of compassion fatigue.

What are the top 3 jobs with the highest suicidal deaths? ›

10 Jobs With The Highest Suicide Rates
  • Pharmacists. Generally, a pharmacist is responsible for prescribing patients their medications, oftentimes a thankless job. ...
  • Farm Workers. Jobs With The Highest Suicide Rates. ...
  • Electricians. ...
  • Financial Planners. ...
  • Police Officers. ...
  • Dentists. ...
  • Doctors**
Mar 29, 2022

How many bodies have been found in the Aokigahara forest? ›

Aokigahara is sometimes referred to as the most popular site for suicide in Japan. In 2003, 105 bodies were found in the forest, exceeding the previous record of 78 in 2002. In 2010, the police recorded more than 200 people having attempted suicide in the forest, of whom 54 completed.

What state has the lowest suicidal deaths? ›

By state
RankStateSuicide rate per 100,000 people
4New Mexico24
46 more rows

Which country in Europe has the highest suicidal rate 2017? ›

The standardised suicide rate in 2017 (latest available data) was 10.1 per 100,000 of population for the EU-28 Member States compared with 11.0 in Ireland. The rate was highest in Lithuania at 26.0 and lowest in Cyprus at 4.0. The comparable rate for the United Kingdom was 7.4.

What is the most suicidal day of the year? ›

The study, published in The Journal of Emergency Medicine, also reveals that New Year's Day is the holiday associated with the highest number of suicide attempts.

What is the suicide rate in Utah? ›

The 2021 Utah age-adjusted suicide rate was 20 per 100,000 population.

What is the suicide rate in Russia? ›

Suicide in Russia is a significant national social issue, with the suicide rate at 21.6 suicides per 100.000 people. In 2021, the suicide rate in Russia was 10.7 per 100,000 people, according to national sources, down from 39.1 in 2000 and 41.4 in 1995.

What is the main reason for suicide in Japan? ›

Historically, Japan's above-average suicide rates have been closely linked to the economic situation of the country. While health issues are the prime reason for committing suicide among Japanese, existential worries and problems at work are major factors that can also trigger self-harming behavior.

What is the suicide rate in Europe? ›

The total suicides rate in Europe (38 countries) went down from 20 deaths for every 100,000 people in 2011 to 16 per 100,000 in 2019, a drop in suicide deaths of almost 20% in this period. Lithuania, which previously had by far the highest suicide rate in Europe, showed the greatest drop in suicides.

How many Indian students are depressed? ›

World Mental Health Day 2022: 81 percent of students in India have reported feelings of anxiety and depression related to academics, exams and results.

How many Indian students are suffering from depression? ›

Findings disclosed that 37.7%, 13.1%, and 2.4% of the students were suffering from moderate, severe, and extremely severe depression. A significant difference was found across semester, that is, semester II students reported a higher level of depression than semester III students.

How many students have died in Kota? ›

According to government data, 22 students have died in Kota since 2022. Around 121 have died since 2011.

Which state has highest farmers suicidal deaths in India? ›

The Government of Maharashtra, concerned about the highest total number of farmer suicides among its rural populations, commissioned its own study into reasons.

What city has the highest suicide rate in the world? ›

Suicide in Greenland, an autonomous country within the Kingdom of Denmark, is a significant national social issue. Greenland has the highest suicide rate in the world: reports between 1985 and 2012 showed that an average of 83 people in 100,000 died by suicide yearly.

What is Japan's suicide rate? ›

The new report leaves Japan's suicide rate at about 17.2 deaths per 100000 people, one of the highest rates in the world, though still less than half the rate in Hungary (35.3). As well as the economic slump, cultural factors are also believed to have contributed to Japan's large number of suicides.

Is Japan the most suicidal country in the world? ›

However, on a global scale, Japan ranks lower on the suicide rate in 49th place, having a lower rate of suicides compared to some other developed nations.

What are the top 10 states with suicide rates? ›

States ranked by suicide rate
  • Illinois — 10.5.
  • California — 10.
  • Connecticut — 9.3.
  • Maryland — 9.2.
  • Massachusetts — 8.4. Rhode Island — 8.4.
  • New York — 8.
  • New Jersey — 7.1.
  • District of Columbia — 5.4.
Apr 12, 2022

How does the suicide rate in the U.S. compare to other countries? ›

They also compared U.S. performance to the average of all 36 OECD member nations. Among the key findings: The U.S. has the highest suicide rate of any wealthy nation. Suicides account for 14 deaths per 100,000 people in the U.S. This is double the suicide rate of the United Kingdom.

What is the suicide rate in Italy? ›

Italy suicide rate for 2019 was 6.70, a 0% increase from 2018. Italy suicide rate for 2018 was 6.70, a 5.63% decline from 2017. Italy suicide rate for 2017 was 7.10, a 7.58% increase from 2016. Italy suicide rate for 2016 was 6.60, a 7.04% decline from 2015.

Which US county has the highest suicide rate? ›

I decided to travel to Catron County, a high-desert region in New Mexico along the Arizona border with the highest rate of suicide death of any county in the contiguous U.S. from 2010 to 2020, at 63.2 per 100,000 people. (The average national rate for the same time period was about 13.2.)

How many suicides in Vegas? ›

The Silver State ranked 7th in 2019, with 642 deaths with an age-adjusted rate of 19.8 suicides per 100,000 population. Those numbers dropped in 2020 to 603 deaths, a rate of 19.2. According to Nevada's Office of Suicide Prevention, Nevada has held steady or decreased suicides, while the country has seen an uptick.

Are suicide rates higher in the city? ›

Researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) analyzed county-level data on suicide deaths from 1999 to 2015 and found that rates increased across all levels of urbanization, but rose more steeply in rural regions than in cities.

Does Japan have a higher suicide rate in the United States? ›

Suicide mortality rates by age group and gender in Japan and the United States are shown in Figure 1. The rates in Japan were higher than in the United States in most of the age groups for both genders.

How many hours do Japanese work? ›

Although the legal recommendation for working hours in Japan is 40 hours per week, historically, many Japanese employers have required their employees to work as much as 80 hours of overtime per month.


1. US: Teen suicides rise as lockdown takes toll
(Sky News)
2. CDC study: COVID-19 impacts leading to suicidal thoughts for some
3. #1 Uncovering the Shocking Reality of Suicide during the Pandemic
(Anton Pictures)
4. How is #Covid19 influencing the suicide rate?
(Prasad Counseling and Training)
5. The Hidden Pandemic
(Kansas City PBS)
6. The mental health impacts of the pandemic one year later
(CBS News)


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