Covid-19 pandemic stress increased suicidal thoughts: Study

The Covid-19 pandemic has not only hit physical health and the economy but has also impacted mental health with the possibility of increased rates of suicide, according to a study.

Led by a team of researchers at Swansea University, Cardiff University, and the NHS in Wales, the study probed exactly which Covid-related stressors were most likely to trigger suicidal thoughts and behaviours.

The survey was conducted on more than 12,000 people, which asked volunteers to share their experiences during the first UK lockdown.

The results, published in the journal Archives of Suicide Research, show that several stressors such as social isolation, domestic abuse, relationship problems, redundancy, and financial problems were strongly linked to suicidal thoughts and behaviors.

However, not everyone enduring these issues reported having suicidal thoughts. Those individuals with high levels of resilience and hope for the future were less affected by these pressures.

“We can use these findings to target which stressors are the most toxic in terms of driving people towards thoughts of suicide. While some of these may ease as we come out of lockdown, others may persist well into the future,” said Professor Nicola Gray, from Swansea University.

“Many of these stressors are difficult to avoid, so we also need to instill hope for the future in our communities to help people get through these difficult times,” added Professor Robert Snowden from Cardiff University.

The researchers also discovered the important role that hopes for the future can play – along with individuals’ levels of resilience — when it comes to coping with these stressors.

“People’s responses to a traumatic crisis do not follow a simple path of depression then recovery. It is currently unclear as to whether people simply have got worse as the crisis has continued or whether they are becoming more immune to the situation and are developing increased resilience. Only by understanding this can we be in a position to make an effective response and help people who might be suffering,” said James Knowles, from Swansea University.

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