Corona and Psyche: The suicide rate remained stable in the first lockdown

According to a recent study from Leipzig, the suicide rate in the city did not increase during the first corona lockdown, but fell slightly. However, the researchers fear that this development could be reversed.

The corona pandemic has exacerbated the needs of many mentally ill people. Isolation due to the lockdowns, growing  fears  and sometimes existential worries were added. At the same time, the  pandemic made  access to offers of help more difficult, and the waiting lists for psychotherapy became even longer than they already were.

Why the risk of suicide did not increase in the early phase of the corona pandemic

Despite these hurdles, there was no increase in suicides, at least during the first lockdown in spring 2020, as a recent study from Leipzig shows. Your director Dr. Daniel Radeloff was surprised that the suicide rate actually fell slightly in March. However, this effect is mainly due to the high suicide rates in the previous months of January and February 2020, explains the expert.

However, protective factors could also have played a role during the first lockdown: According to the researchers, an existential, external threat such as the corona pandemic could lead to a short-term increase in social solidarity. This in turn is considered an important protective factor against suicide.

An international meta-analysis published in the journal “Lancet Psychiatry” supports the data from Leipzig. The overview study included data on suicide rates from 21 countries, which also showed constant suicide rates in the early phase of the corona pandemic.

Increase in suicides due to Corona cannot be ruled out

However, the head of the study, Radeloff, points out that the results from Leipzig are a regional snapshot. “That may well change as the pandemic develops,” adds the psychiatrist Rainer Papsdorf, who was involved in the study. “Risk factors for suicide can  increase : for example in the form of rising unemployment, increased consumption of addictive substances, loneliness or higher prevalence rates of mental illnesses,” explains the expert. It is therefore essential to continue to monitor the development of suicide rates.

The research association “International  COVID-19  Suicide Prevention Research Collaboration (ICSPRC)” has also set itself the goal of recording changes in suicide rates in a timely manner. National cause-of-death statistics are often only published with a delay of many months.

Radeloff emphasizes: “People in psychological emergencies can continue to turn to the psychotherapeutic and psychiatric facilities during the pandemic. The care is guaranteed and telemedical offers have been expanded in some locations.”

Suicide is the second leading cause of death among young adults

Every year around 10,000 people end their lives in Germany – more people die from suicide than from traffic accidents, illegal drugs and acts of violence combined; the number of suicide attempts is many times higher. Suicide is the second leading cause of death among young people under the age of 25,  but overall the number of suicides in Germany has been falling for years.

If you are considering taking your own life, you can contact people you trust or call the counseling service free of charge around the clock on 0800/111 0 111 or 0800/111 0 222. The employees also specialize in the greatest mental emergencies such as suicide (attempts).

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