Editorial: COVID-19: lessons learned for suicide prevention
Joan R. Asarnow, Bowen Chung
This editorial discusses lessons learned from the COVID-19 public health emergency as they relate to the prevention of suicide, the second leading cause of death in adolescents and young adults globally. Recognizing that COVID-19 impact and response varied across nations, we offer a US perspective, addressing two questions: (a) what have we learned from this pandemic and mitigation strategies used to reduce cases of COVID-19 illness and deaths; and (b) how can our research advance knowledge and be advanced by work aimed at understanding the impact of this ‘unusual’ period? Provisional data indicate that during the pandemic and lockdown period, there were some declines in suicide rates for the total US population and no change in youth. However, data also indicate increases in reported suicidal ideation and behavior, mental health-related ED visits, and ED visits for suicidal ideation and behavior in youth. Heterogeneity of pandemic effects is noteworthy, with ethnic and racial minority populations suffering the most from COVID-19, COVID-19-related risk factors, and possibly suicide deaths. As vaccinations can prevent severe COVID-19 cases and deaths, we also have demonstrations of effective ‘psychological inoculations’ such as community-based interventions for reducing suicide attempts and deaths. During COVID-19, we mobilized to provide clinical care through telehealth and digital interventions. The challenge now is to continue to put our science to work to mitigate the adverse impacts of the pandemic on suicide and suicide risk factors, our children’s mental health, and enhance mental health and well-being in our communities.
We hope you enjoy the full editorial of this Issue, which is free on the Wiley Online Library.
Joan R. Asarnow is currently an editor for JCPP, a full profile can be found here
Bowen Chung, MD, MSHS is an Associate Professor-in-Residence in the Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.