Year: 2023 Source: Crisis. (2023). 44(4), 285-291. DOI: SIEC No: 20231856
Background: Although the number of suicides did not increase in 2020, there are concerns about the mental health consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic. Aims: To present the demand for the Dutch suicide prevention helpline during times of lockdown and to describe the coronavirus-related problems discussed. Methods: An observational and exploratory study analyzing the frequency of helpline requests and registration data (n = 893 conversations). Results: Demand for the helpline did increase, but with no distinctive relation with the lockdown measures. During the first lockdown, approximately a quarter of the analyzed helpline conversations were registered as coronavirus-related by the counselors. Most frequently mentioned conversation topics were the interruption to or changes in professional help, social isolation and loss of structure, and ways to find a distraction from suicidal thoughts/rumination. Limitations: Observational study design prevents causal inferences, and demand for the helpline is impacted by multiple factors. Conclusion: These coronavirus-related problems made help-seekers vulnerable to suicidal thoughts and a reduced desire to live. That many suffered from loneliness is concerning as this contributes to the risk of suicidal ideation. The distress among help-seekers due to the sudden loss of mental health care underscores the importance of maintaining contact with those in care and lowering the threshold for help.