Data from the first round of the nationally representative Survey on COVID-19 and Mental Health (SCMH) revealed that the prevalence of recent suicidal ideation in the fall of 2020 in Canada did not differ significantly from that in the pre-pandemic period in 2019. The objective of the present study was to reassess the prevalence of recent suicidal ideation in the spring of 2021.
The prevalence of suicidal ideation among adults in Canada was examined using the 2021 SCMH (conducted between February 1 and May 7, 2021), and it was compared with the prevalence in the 2019 Canadian Community Health Survey. Unadjusted logistic regression analysis was used to assess the differential likelihood of reporting suicidal ideation in population subgroups.
Among adults in Canada, the prevalence of suicidal ideation since the pandemic began was 4.2%, which was significantly higher than the pre-pandemic prevalence of 2.7% in 2019. A statistically significant increase in prevalence was observed among females and males, age groups younger than 65, and several other sociodemographic groups, as well as in British Columbia, the Prairie provinces and Ontario. People who were younger than 65 years, were born in Canada, had lower educational attainment, or were never married were significantly more likely to report suicidal ideation than others during the pandemic.
As the second year of the pandemic began, the prevalence of recent suicidal ideation in Canada was higher than it had been before the pandemic in 2019. Continuous monitoring of suicide-related outcomes and risks is necessary so that population-level changes can be detected and inform public health action.