Suicide rates drop in Canada during pandemic

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Research findings on suicide rates in Canada during the COVID-19 pandemic show rates have fallen despite a concurrent rise in unemployment. The researchers say the measures put in place by the Canadian government to reduce insecurity during the strict shutdown of the economy offer lessons in suicide reduction for governments around the world, even after the pandemic has ended.

The study, published in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, compared suicide rates in Canada between March 2020 and February 2021 with the same period the year before. The rate fell from 10.82 deaths per 100,000 in 2019/20 to 7.34 deaths per 100,000 in 2020/21.

Principal investigator Dr Roger McIntyre, from the Psychopharmacology of Mood Disorders Unit at the University of Toronto, said: as well as other services, including mental health programs, were immediately launched to deal specifically with aspects of insecurity, particularly economic and housing.

The researchers describe how the Canadian government provided financial support to employees and self-employed workers of $ 2,000 (CAD) each month for up to 28 weeks and $ 1,250 (CAD) to students each month for up to 16 weeks. Leniency on mortgage payments has been recommended and there has been increased funding for emergency child care. In addition, funds were deployed for emergency psychiatric services in the form of access to 24/7 crisis lines as well as the provision of psychotherapeutic and counseling services at no cost to residents. Canadian.

Dr McIntyre added: “It should be noted that the observed decrease in the suicide rate in Canada as well as an increase in the rates of psychological distress, mental illness and reports of suicidality reflect the multifactorial and discrete phenomenology of suicide during the COVID-19 pandemic. “

He concluded: “A national imperative in Canada and around the world should be to reduce suicide rates. Government interventions that broadly aim to reduce insecurity measures, as well as provide timely social support and psychiatric services, should be prioritized as part of a national suicide reduction strategy, not only during but after the end of the COVID-19 pandemic. “


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