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There has been no increase in suicides during the Corona crisis, according to a study conducted in 21 countries

A telephone booth in Dojinpo, Japan with suicide prevention phone numbers and verses.Celt Images Field

For example, the suicide rate is lower in Japan, New Zealand and Canada than in some other regions in the United States, the United Kingdom and Austria (Tyrol). In the Netherlands it was almost the same: about 1,800 suicides in 2020, as in previous years.

This is clear from the industry’s first major research published today in the official professional journal The Lancet Psychiatry. One notable consequence, as expectations were different, the researchers say: was that there were serious concerns that statistics would rise globally. “Risks have increased: loneliness, financial worries,” says Renske Kilissen, a leading researcher on 113 suicide prevention, which provided Dutch figures for an international study. So we feared the increase. Fortunately that did not happen. ‘

The study compared suicide rates in 21 countries in the first four months of the epidemic – April, May, June and July – with those in previous years. No increase was noted in any of the countries surveyed. Not even in the Netherlands, where 594 suicides took place between April 1 and July 31 last year, was only an accidental percentage over the previous year.

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Look for explanations

Derek de Pierce, head of epidemiology at Trimbos and a researcher in the field of psychiatry, predicted last year in this newspaper that Corona would have a ‘major impact’ on suicide. He therefore calls the results of the research ‘perspective’. “This is a search for explanations.” An option: Corona does not lead to a deep economic crisis, an important prediction for raising suicide rates.

De Pierce: ‘Because middle-aged men commit suicide, they also lose self-esteem because of their jobs and income. Nowadays it is especially the youth who are struggling. They may take more effort, but in these figures they will not show you. ‘However, the average adult is in a state of mental illness. In early March, the SCP reported that life satisfaction was much lower than in the Corona.

The effect of locking

Locking can protect against suicide, de Pierce advises. ‘Depression will disappear.’ Empty agendas, fewer offers, more time at home. ‘Especially for those with severe psychological problems, it is an important risk group that society demands less of them.’

Ad Gerkoff, a professor of suicide prevention, was not involved in the study, and the result is very interesting. ‘This confirms that we still do not fully understand how it works in crises. Suicide rates generally increase due to an economic crisis, but not immediately, or not immediately, due to an epidemic. There may be an explanation that people who lose their jobs and income during a recession may think: I am only a burden to society and my family, I will no longer be there. Now for those who are depressed at home that idea is less likely. We have a common enemy with the virus. We have to stay home. Now the thought might help: at least I didn’t spread the virus. ‘

You can talk about suicidal thoughts in 113 Suicide Prevention Crisis. Call 0800-0113 for an interview. You can visit www.113.nl.

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