The role of interpersonal stressors and connectedness in acute suicide risk and the suicide crisis syndrome during the COVID-19 pandemic

Yarden Blum, Shannel Akhavan, Megan L. Rogers, Claudia I. Astudillo-García, Elif Çinka, Fatma Kantas Yilmaz, Jefté Peper-Nascimento, Judith Streb, Ksenia Chistopolskaya, Lisa J. Cohen, Manuela Dudeck, Maximilian Lutz, Ming Been Lee, Muhammad I. Husain, Oskar Kuśmirek, Samira S. Valvassori, Sungeun You, Vikas Menon, Igor Galynker, Shira Barzilay

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: The global COVID-19 pandemic rapidly and drastically impacted everyday life and relationships. Fear of contracting and spreading the virus brought governments and individuals to adopt strict social distancing measures. These changes have had a significant negative impact on mental health, including a suggested increase in suicidal behaviors. The present study examined the role of interpersonal stress and connectedness in suicidal ideation, deliberate self-harm, suicide attempts, and the suicide crisis syndrome during the COVID-19 pandemic. Methods: An international sample of 7837 adult participants was recruited across ten participating countries to complete an anonymous online battery of self-report questionnaires. Questionnaires assessed suicide-related outcomes, stressful life events (SLE), and connectedness. Multilevel regression analyses were used to examine the associations between SLE and connectedness on suicide-related outcomes within the past month. Results: Interpersonal SLEs and low connectedness were associated with an increased likelihood of suicide-related outcomes and increased severity of suicide crisis syndrome. Specifically, higher rates of SLEs and lower levels of connectedness were associated with more suicide-related outcomes. Limitations: The use of a cross-sectional design and snowball sampling method may restrict the ability to establish causal relationships and limit the representativeness of the findings. Conclusions: Our findings suggest elevated suicide-related outcomes during the COVID-19 pandemic among individuals experiencing multiple interpersonal stressful life events and low connectedness with others. The circumstances of social life during the COVID-19 pandemic highlight the urgency of implementing preventive programs aimed at mitigating potential suicide risks that may arise in the aftermath of public stress situations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)19-25
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Affective Disorders
Volume354
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Jun 2024
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2024 Elsevier B.V.

Keywords

  • COVID-19
  • Deliberate self-harm
  • Suicide
  • Suicide crisis syndrome

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