Suicide before and during the COVID-19 Pandemic : A Systematic Review with Meta-Analysis

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Original languageEnglish
Article number3346
Journal / PublicationInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number4
Online published14 Feb 2023
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2023



Synthesizing evidence to examine changes in suicide-related outcomes before and during the pandemic can inform suicide management during the COVID-19 crisis. We searched 13 databases as of December 2022 for studies reporting both the pre- and peri-pandemic prevalence of suicidal ideation, suicide attempts, or rate of death by suicide. A random-effects model was used to pool the ratio of peri- and pre-pandemic prevalence of suicidal ideation and attempt (Prevalence Ratio—PR) and rate of death by suicide (Rate Ratio; RR). We identified 51, 55, and 25 samples for suicidal ideation, attempt, and death by suicide. The prevalence of suicidal ideation increased significantly among non-clinical (PR = 1.142; 95% CI: 1.018–1.282; p = 0.024; k = 28) and clinical (PR = 1.134; 95% CI: 1.048–1.227; p = 0.002; k = 23) samples, and pooled estimates differed by population and study design. Suicide attempts were more prevalent during the pandemic among non-clinical (PR = 1.14; 95% CI: 1.053–1.233; p = 0.001; k = 30) and clinical (PR = 1.32; 95% CI: 1.17–1.489; p = 0.000; k = 25) participants. The pooled RR for death by suicide was 0.923 (95% CI: 0.84–1.01; p = 0.092; k = 25), indicating a nonsignificant downward trend. An upward trend of suicidal ideation and suicide attempts was observed during the COVID-19 pandemic, despite suicide rate remaining stable. Our findings suggest that timely prevention and intervention programs are highly needed for non-clinical adult population and clinical patients. Monitoring the real-time and long-run suicide risk as the pandemic evolves is warranted. © 2023 by the authors.

Research Area(s)

  • COVID-19 pandemic, death by suicide, meta-analysis, suicidal ideation, suicide attempt

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