Risk factors for attempting suicide during the COVID-19 lockdown: Identification of the high-risk groups
Objectives In the wake of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, we have witnessed a rise in the instances of mental health problems and the suicide-related mortality rates. This study aims to identify the suicide-related risk factors and stressors to determine the groups at a greater risk of attempting suicide during the COVID-19 lockdown.
Methods This retrospective study examined 29 cases of attempted suicide during the 3-month COVID-19 lockdown in KSA. The suicide risk factors were evaluated using specific instrument the modified (SAD PERSONS) scale. It is an acronym for sex, age, depression, previous attempt, excess alcohol, rational thinking loss, social status, organized plan, no social supports and stated future intent.
Results The lockdown stressors that may have triggered suicidal behaviours were identified as follows: psychological distress, relationship problems, financial difficulties, and extreme fear of the COVID-19 infection. While all age groups carried the risk of attempting suicide during the lockdown, patients with psychiatric disorders and women accounted for 69% and 65.5% of the cohort, respectively. Factors like hopelessness and depression were highly related to suicide attempts, as well as the statement of future intent to repeat the attempt, at 72.4% and 65.5% respectively. Almost two-thirds of the attempts made were serious, and many women felt unsafe in their own homes during the lockdown.
Conclusion Patients with pre-existing psychiatric disorders and women carry high risk of attempting suicide during the COVID-19 lockdown. This study offers insights on the greater outreach efforts that can be carried out for these patients by calling for the prioritization of mental health care, improvement of domestic violence services, and strengthening of suicide prevention strategies