Suicide behaviors during the COVID-19 pandemic: A meta-analysis of 54 studies

COVID-19, and efforts to mitigate its spread, are creating extensive mental health problems. Experts have speculated the mental, economic, behavioral, and psychosocial problems linked to the COVID-19 pandemic may lead to a rise in suicide behavior. However, a quantitative synthesis is needed to reach an overall conclusion regarding the pandemic-suicide link. In the most comprehensive test of the COVID-19—suicidality link to date, we meta-analyzed data from 308,596 participants across 54 studies. Our results suggested increased event rates for suicide ideation (10.81%), suicide attempts (4.68%), and self-harm (9.63%) during the COVID-19 pandemic when considered against event rates from pre-pandemic studies. Moderation analysis indicated younger people, women, and individuals from democratic countries are most susceptible to suicide ideation during the COVID-19 pandemic. Policymakers and helping professionals are advised that suicide behaviors are alarmingly common during the COVID-19 pandemic and vary based upon age, gender, and geopolitics. Strong protections from governments (e.g., implementing best practices in suicide prevention) are urgently needed to reduce suicide behaviors during the COVID-19 pandemic.