Year: 2021 Source: Health Promotion and Chronic Disease Prevention in Canada. (2021). SIEC No: 20210815

Introduction: Many Canadians report decreased mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic, and concerns have been raised about possible increases in suicide. This study investigates the pandemic’s potential impact on adults’ suicide ideation.

Methods: We compared self-reported suicide ideation in 2020 versus 2019 by analyzing data from the Survey on COVID-19 and Mental Health (11 September to 4 December 2020) and the 2019 Canadian Community Health Survey. Logistic regression was conducted to determine which populations were at higher risk of suicide ideation during the pandemic.

Results: The percentage of adults reporting suicide ideation since the pandemic began (2.44%) was not significantly different from the percentage reporting suicide ideation in the past 12 months in 2019 (2.73%). Significant differences in the prevalence of recent suicide ideation in 2020 versus 2019 also tended to be absent in the numerous sociodemographic groups we examined. Risk factors of reporting suicide ideation during the pandemic included being under 65 years, Canadian-born or a frontline worker; reporting pandemic-related income/job loss or loneliness/isolation; experiencing a lifetime highly stressful/traumatic event; and having lower household income and educational attainment.

Conclusion: Evidence of changes in suicide ideation due to the pandemic were generally not observed in this research. Continued surveillance of suicide and risk/protective factors is needed to inform suicide prevention efforts.