What is it about?

To lower health crises caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, countries across the world took multiple measures. These measures included lockdowns, social distancing, and shelter-in-place mandates. The government of Canada implemented a strict lockdown as well, which led to a shutdown of the economy. This led to an increase in unemployment from 5.7% in 2019 to 9.5% in 2020. In the past, unemployment and economic downturn have been linked to an increase in suicide rates. The authors of this study examined how the support programs by the government affected the suicide rates in Canada. They studied the suicide mortality data, population data, and unemployment data in Canada from Statistics Canada, from March 2020 to April 2021. They also made a cross-national comparison of these outcome measures with those in Japan. They expected the suicides rates to increase during this period. They found that public health measures taken in Canada were quite effective in the first year of the pandemic. There was a notable decrease in suicide rates in Canada during this period. This decrease correlated with the increase in unemployment. This was contrary to the initial decrease followed by an increase in suicide rates in Japan.

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Why is it important?

There are many factors that can lead to a high suicide rate. Therefore, the trend in suicide rates cannot be attributed to one cause. It is likely that the collective strength and resilience shown by people during the pandemic decreased the suicide risk. In addition, support from the government, such as health and economic security, may have reduced the suicide rates on a national level. These measures should be taken not only during the pandemic but also at other times. This way, an overall decrease in suicide rates can be achieved in Canada. KEY TAKEAWAY: During the first year of the pandemic, the suicide rates decreased in Canada, despite rising unemployment. Continued support measures by the government can help reduce the national suicide rates even after the pandemic.

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Suicide reduction in Canada during the COVID-19 pandemic: lessons informing national prevention strategies for suicide reduction, Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, September 2021, SAGE Publications,
DOI: 10.1177/01410768211043186.
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