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The Psychological Impact of COVID-19 Pandemic on Suicidal Thoughts in the United Kingdom

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 June 2022

Shanaya Rathod*
Affiliation:
Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust, Southampton, United Kingdom
Peter Phiri
Affiliation:
Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust, Southampton, United Kingdom
Saseendran Pallikadavath
Affiliation:
University of Porstmouth, Portsmouth, United Kingdom
Elizabeth Graves
Affiliation:
Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust, Southampton, United Kingdom
Ashlea Brooks
Affiliation:
Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust, Southampton, United Kingdom
Pranay Rathod
Affiliation:
London, United Kingdom
Sharon Lin
Affiliation:
University of Southampton, Southampton, United Kingdom
*
*Presenting author.
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Abstract

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Aims

Background: The impact of the pandemic and resultant restrictions on suicidal thoughts may vary across populations, geographical areas, between high and low socio-economic groups and vulnerable populations. Aim: To investigate the psychological impact of COVID-19 and resultant restrictions on suicidal thoughts in the United Kingdom.

Methods

The study group conducted a cross sectional survey using a questionnaire based on published approaches (Generalised Anxiety Disorder 7, Patient Health Questionnaire 9, Impact of Events Scale-Revised) to understand the psychological impact of COVID-19 and the resultant restrictions on suicidal thoughts. The study was conducted in 3 phases to capture the different phases of the pandemic restrictions:

  • Phase 1: 1st May 2020 to 31st July 2020

  • Phase 2: 12th November 2020 to 12th February 2021

  • Phase 3: 1st July 2021 to 30th September 2021

Inclusion: All individuals above 16 years of age who wanted to participate were eligible.

Analysis strategy: Descriptive analysis and logistic regression is applied in this study.

Results

The study recruited 29133 participants in phase 1; 83851 participants in phase 2 and 75204 participants in phase 3. The largest age group of participants was 45–64 years. About two thirds of respondents were female. Majority of participants were of White British ethnicity. 31% participants in phase 1, 30% in phase 2 and 19% in phase 3 reported suicidal thoughts.

The preliminary regression analysis indicates that younger and male participants reported more suicidal thoughts among other findings which will be reported in the presentation.

Limitations: The non-probability sample design and time limited surveys meant that longitudinal changes were not possible to elicit.

Conclusion

There is mixed evidence on whether rates of suicidal thoughts increased during the pandemic. The results of this study will add to the evidence base and influence future pandemic planning and efforts to developing resilience and good mental health in society.

Type
Research
Creative Commons
Creative Common License - CCCreative Common License - BY
This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Copyright
Copyright © The Author(s), 2022. Published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of the Royal College of Psychiatrists
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