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Suicide, self-harm and suicidal ideation during COVID-19: A systematic review

Farooq, Saeed; Tunmore, Jessica; Ali, Wajid; Ayub, Muhammed


Jessica Tunmore

Wajid Ali

Muhammed Ayub


We aimed to do a systematic review and meta-analysis of studies describing suicidal ideation, suicide attempts and suicide and associated risk factors during COVID-19 pandemic. We searched following electronic databases using relevant search terms: Medline, Embase, PsycInfo and CINAHL and systematically reviewed the evidence following PRISMA guidelines. The meta-analysis of prevalence of suicidal ideation was done using random effect model. The search returned 972 records, we examined 106 in full text and included 38 studies describing 120,076 participants. Nineteen studies described suicide or attempted self-harm, mostly in case reports. Out of 19 studies describing suicidal ideations, 12 provided appropriate data for meta-analysis. The pooled prevalence of suicidal ideation in these studies was 12.1% (CI 9.3–15.2). Main risk factors for suicidal ideations were: low social support, high physical and mental exhaustion and poorer self-reported physical health in frontline medical workers, sleep disturbances, quarantine and exhaustion, loneliness, and mental health difficulties. We provide first meta-analytic estimate of suicidal ideation based on large sample from different countries and populations. The rate of suicidal ideations during COVID pandemic is higher than that reported in studies on general population prior to pandemic and may result in higher suicide rates in future.


Farooq, S., Tunmore, J., Ali, W., & Ayub, M. (2021). Suicide, self-harm and suicidal ideation during COVID-19: A systematic review. Psychiatry Research, 306, Article ARTN 114228.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Sep 25, 2021
Online Publication Date Oct 7, 2021
Publication Date 2021-12
Deposit Date Jun 27, 2023
Print ISSN 0165-1781
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 306
Article Number ARTN 114228
Keywords pandemic; isolation; anxiety; depression; lockdown; COVID-19; suicide