The Clinical Sequelae of the COVID-19 Pandemic: Loneliness, Depression, Excessive Alcohol Use, Social Media Addiction, and Risk for Suicide Ideation

Sami Hamdan, Tal Guz, Gil Zalsman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: Depression, loneliness, and alcohol use disorder are associated with suicide ideation. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has challenged our social structures with social distancing and isolation policies implemented worldwide, severely restricting social interactions. Studies regarding the effects of the pandemic are starting to shed light on the harmful psychological effects of these policies. Aims: This study aims to identify whether the increase in suicidal ideation among college students (mostly young adults) during the pandemic was due to the known risk factors of loneliness, depression, alcohol use disorder, social media addiction, and other background variables. Method: Nine hundred and eleven college students completed self-report questionnaires assessing suicidal risk, depressive symptoms, loneliness, excessive alcohol use, and social media use. Results: During the pandemic suicidal ideation was associated with loneliness (χ2 = 54.65, p < 0.001), depressive symptoms (χ2 = 110.82, p < 0.001), alcohol use disorder (χ2 = 10.02, P < 0.01) and social media addiction (χ2 = 13.73, P < 0.001). Being single [OR = 2.55; p < 0.01], and self-identifying as a non-heterosexual [OR = 2.55; p < 0.01] were found to constitute additional risk factors. Limitations: The structural nature of quantitative self-report scales does not offer the flexibility of gaining a deeper understanding of causes, specific to particular circumstances that may lead participants to ideate on suicide, even briefly. Conclusions: Social distancing and isolation policies during the COVID-19 pandemic constitute an additional factor in the risk for suicide ideation.

Original languageEnglish
JournalArchives of Suicide Research
Early online date16 May 2024
DOIs
StateE-pub ahead of print - 16 May 2024
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2024 International Academy for Suicide Research.

Keywords

  • College students
  • pandemic
  • suicidality

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