Suicides are rarer during the pandemic than expected

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Issue 70: 29 June 2021
Every week, HEADlines brings you the latest news, stories and commentaries
in education and healthcare. This week, get insights on the latest developments in healthcare.
Not as depressing as we thought

**Trigger warning: The following passage contains mention of suicide

Epidemics have historically been linked to mental health disorders and increased suicide rates. As the COVID-19 pandemic loomed in 2020, it is no surprise that the Australian Medical Association (AMA) had issued a warning on mental health in May last year.

One year down the road, have more people actually acted on suicidal thoughts?

The short answer is, surprisingly no

According to a study by Lancet Psychiatry, suicide figures during the pandemic were either unchanged or lower compared with the pre-pandemic period in 21 countries studied, after adjusting for seasonality and long-term trend in each country. Weighted by population, the average declines were 7% relative to expectations and 11% compared with 2019.

What is the reason behind the lack of increase in suicide rates? The Economist quoted governments' fiscal support as an instrumental factor that alleviated "a cause of stress that could, in the worst cases, lead to suicide".  

While it may be too early to conclude that the pandemic has not led to more suicides at all, two things are clear: governments' intervention and assistance are crucial in preserving the population's mental well-being; and policymakers should remain vigilant and be poised to respond should the longer-term mental health consequences of the pandemic unfold. 
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Photo credit: Brian Yurasits on Unsplash
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Source: Medical News Today

Having a headache and prefer not to pop another Panadol? Learn more about the science behind acupressure, and the pressure points on the feet that could help relieve a headache.

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