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No increased suicide mortality during the first corona lockdown

A research group from the Leipzig University Medical Center evaluated suicides in the city during the early phase of the COVID-19 pandemic and found no increased suicide rates. The result of this regional study is consistent with a recently published international study that meta-analyzed data from 21 countries on suicide mortality during the pandemic.

In Leipzig, the suicide rate during the early phase of the COVID-19 pandemic was in the range of previous years. Scientists from the University Medicine Leipzig led by study director Dr. Daniel Radeloff in cooperation with the Leipzig Health Department and recently published in the journal "Epidemiology and Psychiatric Sciences". In the study, the suicide death rates from March to September 2020 were compared with the data from previous years, taking into account seasonal fluctuations in suicide rates and a trend towards falling suicide death rates in Germany.

"The results of our study represent a snapshot with regional reference. But the available international data also show that the risk of suicide did not increase in the early phase of the pandemic," says Dr. Radeloff. The psychiatrist Rainer Papsdorf, who was involved in the study, adds: “However, this may well change as the pandemic develops. Risk factors for suicide can increase: for example in the form of rising unemployment, increased drug use, loneliness or higher prevalence rates of mental illnesses. It is therefore essential to continue to monitor the development of suicide rates and to replace speculation with scientific evidence.

The researchers were surprised that lower suicide rates were recorded during the first lockdown than in the previous months of the pandemic. This difference is mainly due to high suicide rates in January and February 2020. However, protective factors could also have played a role during the lockdown: An existential external threat such as the corona pandemic can lead to a brief increase in social solidarity – this is considered an important protective factor against suicide.

The Leipzig regional data on suicide mortality in connection with COVID-19 has been included in an international study that was recently published in the journal "Lancet Psychiatry". The authors of the meta-analysis also report unchanged suicide rates during the early phase of the pandemic. In addition to the Leipzig survey, German regional data from Frankfurt, Cologne and Leverkusen were included in the study and evaluated together with around 40 data sets from 21 countries. As part of the research network "International COVID-19 Suicide Prevention Research Collaboration (ICSPRC)", a timely monitoring of suicide rates during the pandemic is being sought. National cause of death statistics are often released many months late. The ICSPRC is therefore pursuing the approach of bringing together quickly available international data and evaluating it meta-analytically.

Radeloff, Senior Physician at Leipzig University Hospital in the Clinic for Psychiatry, Psychotherapy and Psychosomatic Medicine for Children and Adolescents, emphasizes: “People in mental distress can continue to turn to the psychotherapeutic and psychiatric facilities during the pandemic. The care is guaranteed and telemedicine offers have been added in some locations.”

Source: Press release University of Leipzig from April 14.04.2021th, XNUMX

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