Prevalence and correlates of suicidal ideation and deliberate self-harm in Canadian adolescents during the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic
Turner, B.J., Robillard, C.L., Ames, M.E., & Craig, S.G.
Objective In light of recent evidence that the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has resulted in marked increases in depression, anxiety, substance use, and other mental health concerns among Canadian adolescents, we investigated the rates of self-harm thoughts and behaviours in this population. Specifically, this study explored: (1) the demographic and geographic distributions of suicidal ideation (SI) and deliberate self-harm (DSH), and (2) the associations of mental health and substance use with SI and DSH. Method A total of 809 Canadian adolescents, aged 12–18 years, completed an online survey between June 17, 2020 and July 31, 2020. Results 44% of adolescents reported experiencing SI since the pandemic began, while 32% reported engaging in DSH. SI and DSH were more common among youth who: identified as transgender, non-binary or gender fluid; who did not reside with both parents; and who reported psychiatric concerns or frequent cannabis use. Conclusion Canadian adolescents appear to be experiencing higher rates of self-harm thoughts and behaviours relative to before the COVID-19 pandemic. It is important for adults who are likely to interact with distressed youth to be aware of potential warning signs that a youth is struggling with self-harm, and to refer youth to specialty mental health services where appropriate.