Year: 2021 Source: Australasian Psychiatry. (2021). Published online 24 February 2021. doi: 10.1177/1039856221992632. SIEC No: 20210237

Objective: Reductions in suicidal and self-harm presentations to emergency departments (EDs) since COVID-19 indicate changes in help-seeking behaviours, but it is unknown if hospital avoidance equally affects all population groups.

Method: Socio-demographic and clinical information relating to suicidal and self-harm presentations to EDs in Queensland, Australia, were compared for the period before (March-August 2019) and since the COVID-19 outbreak (March-August 2020).

Results: Since COVID, Indigenous Australians and persons with less severe suicidal and self-harm presentations had significantly reduced presentations, while persons younger than 18 years had more presentations. Less suicidal presentations resulted in an admission to inpatient care.

Conclusions: Patterns of reduced attendance to ED in some groups suggest the need for innovative and community-based models of care to help prevent suicides during the pandemic.