Infographic: Suicidal ideation among adults in Canada during the COVID-19 pandemic

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Organization: Public Health Agency of Canada

Published: 2022-10-18

The COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting public health measures have affected economic, psychosocial, and health-related risk factors for suicidal ideation (i.e., when people experience suicidal thoughts). The Survey on COVID-19 and Mental Health was conducted in 2020 and 2021 to better understand the self-reported mental health of adults aged 18 years and older in Canada during the pandemic, including suicidal ideation.Footnote 1,Footnote 2 Results of the survey were compared to the 2019 Canadian Community Health Survey.

More adults in Canada reported suicidal ideation during the pandemic

Before the pandemic, in 2019, 2.7% of adults in Canada reported suicidal ideation. During the pandemic, 2.4% of adults reported suicidal ideation in fall 2020. This percentage rose significantly in spring 2021 to 4.2%.Footnote 3

Some populations were more likely to report suicidal ideationFootnote 4

Sociodemographic groups

Reports of suicidal ideation were:

Adults who experienced pandemic-related impacts

Reports of suicidal ideation were:

Additionally, the likelihood of reporting suicidal ideation increased with the number of pandemic-related impacts an individual experienced. Compared to those who experienced 1 impact or less, reports of suicidal ideation were 9 times higher in those who experienced 2 or more impacts and 25 times higher in those who experienced 6 or more impacts.

Adults with symptoms of mental illness

Reports of suicidal ideation were:

Other populations

Reports of suicidal ideation were:

Although an increase in suicidal ideation was observed in spring 2021, there is currently no evidence of an increased number of deaths by suicide since the pandemic beganFootnote 5. This could change as data are updated. Monitoring changes in the population over time using surveys and administrative data can help identify groups that are at increased risk of suicide and inform suicide prevention efforts.

Information about the data

The two cycles of Survey on COVID-19 and Mental Health were conducted by Statistics Canada from September to December 2020 and February to May 2021. Participants were asked if they had seriously contemplated suicide since the COVID-19 pandemic began. In the 2019 Canadian Community Health Survey, participants were asked if they had seriously contemplated suicide in the past 12 months.

Help is available

Reading about suicide may bring about difficult emotions. If you or someone you know is in immediate danger, please call 9-1-1.

Help is available 24/7 for suicide prevention and mental health. Here are some resources:

Visit the Government of Canada's website on Coronavirus disease (COVID-19)
Like us: @HealthyCdns
Follow us: @GovCanHealth

Footnotes

Footnote 1

Statistics Canada. Survey on COVID-19 and Mental Health. 2020 (Retrieved June 2022). Available from: https://www23.statcan.gc.ca/imdb/p2SV.pl?Function=getSurvey&Id=1283036

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Footnote 2

Statistics Canada. Survey on COVID-19 and Mental Health. 2021 (Retrieved June 2022). Available from: https://www23.statcan.gc.ca/imdb/p2SV.pl?Function=getSurvey&SDDS=5330

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Footnote 3

More detailed methods and results can be found in the journal articles: Suicide ideation in Canada during the COVID-19 pandemic and Prevalence of suicidal ideation among adults in Canada: Results of the second Survey on COVID-19 and mental health.

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Footnote 4

The estimates were based on pooled data of the 2020 and 2021 Survey on COVID-19 and Mental Health.

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Footnote 5

Statistics Canada. Deaths, 2020. The Daily. Available from: https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/daily-quotidien/220124/dq220124a-eng.htm

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