Suicidal ideation and thoughts of self-harm during the COVID-19 pandemic: The role of COVID-19-related stress, social isolation, and financial strain.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

BACKGROUND: There are significant concerns about mental health problems occurring due to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. To date, there has been limited empirical investigation about thoughts of suicide and self-harm during the COVID-19 pandemic. METHODS: A national survey was conducted May 2020 to investigate the association between mental health symptoms, social isolation, and financial stressors during the COVID-19 pandemic and thoughts of suicide and self-harm. A total of 6607 US adults completed an online survey; survey criteria included an age minimum of 22 years old and reported annual gross income of $75,000 or below. Statistical raking procedures were conducted to more precisely weight the sample using US Census data on age, geographic region, sex, race, and ethnicity. RESULTS: COVID-19-related stress symptoms, loneliness, and financial strain were associated with thoughts of suicide/self-harm in multivariable logistic regression analyses, as were younger age, being a military veteran, past homelessness, lifetime severe mental illness, current depressive symptoms, alcohol misuse, and having tested positive for COVID-19. Greater social support was inversely related to thoughts of suicide/self-harm whereas running out of money for basic needs (e.g., food), housing instability (e.g., delaying rent), and filing for unemployment or disability were positively related. CONCLUSIONS: Public health interventions to decrease risk of suicide and self-harm in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic should address pandemic-related stress, social isolation, and financial strain experienced including food insecurity, job loss, and risk of eviction/homelessness.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Elbogen, EB; Lanier, M; Blakey, SM; Wagner, HR; Tsai, J

Published Date

  • May 5, 2021

Published In

PubMed ID

  • 33949747

Pubmed Central ID

  • PMC8239640

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1520-6394

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1002/da.23162


  • eng

Conference Location

  • United States