Year: 2022 Source: European Archives of Psychiatry and Clinical Neuroscience. (2022). Published online 4 July 2022. SIEC No: 20220653

The consequences of the current COVID-19 pandemic for mental health remain unclear, especially regarding the effects on suicidal behaviors. To assess changes in the pattern of suicide attempt (SA) admissions and completed suicides (CS) in association with the COVID-19 pandemic. As part of a longitudinal study, SA admissions and CS are systematically documented and analyzed in all psychiatric hospitals in Frankfurt/Main (765.000 inhabitants). Number, sociodemographic factors, diagnoses and methods of SA and CS were compared between the periods of March–December 2019 and March–December 2020. The number of CS did not change, while the number of SA significantly decreased. Age, sex, occupational status, and psychiatric diagnoses did not change in SA, whereas the percentage of patients living alone while attempting suicide increased. The rate and number of intoxications as a SA method increased and more people attempted suicide in their own home, which was not observed in CS. Such a shift from public places to home is supported by the weekday of SA, as the rate of SA on weekends was significantly lower during the pandemic, likely because of lockdown measures. Only admissions to psychiatric hospitals were recorded, but not to other institutions. As it seems unlikely that the number of SA decreased while the number of CS remained unchanged, it is conceivable that the number of unreported SA cases increased during the pandemic. Our data suggest that a higher number of SA remained unnoticed during the pandemic because of their location and the use of methods associated with lower lethality.