Preliminary investigation of the association between COVID-19 and suicidal thoughts and behaviors in the U.S.
Ammerman, B.A., Burke, T.A., Jacobucci, R., & McClure, K.
Evidence suggests that the negative consequences of COVID-19 may extend far beyond its considerable death toll, having a significant impact on psychological well-being. Despite work highlighting the link between previous epidemics and elevated suicide rates, there is limited research on the relationship between the COVID-19 pandemic and suicidal thoughts and behaviors. Utilizing an online survey, the current study aimed to better understand the presence, and extent, of the association between COVID-19-related experiences and past-month suicidal thoughts and behaviors among adults in the United States recruited via Amazon Mechanical Turk (n = 907). Results support an association between several COVID-19-related experiences (i.e., general distress, fear of physical harm, effects of social distancing policies) and past-month suicidal ideation and suicide attempts. Further, a significant proportion of those with recent suicidal ideation explicitly link their suicidal thoughts to COVID-19. Exploratory analyses highlight a potential additional link between COVID-19 and suicidal behavior, suggesting that a portion of individuals may be intentionally exposing themselves to the virus with intent to kill themselves. These findings underscore the need for suicide risk screening and access to mental health services during the current pandemic. Particular attention should be paid to employing public health campaigns to disseminate information on such services to reduce the enormity of distress and emotional impairment associated with COVID-19 in the United States.