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The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic is a major threat to the public. However, the comprehensive profile of suicidal ideation among the general population has not been systematically investigated in a large sample in the age of COVID-19.
A national online cross-sectional survey was conducted between February 28, 2020 and March 11, 2020 in a representative sample of Chinese adults aged 18 years and older. Suicidal ideation was assessed using item 9 of the Patient Health Questionnaire-9. The prevalence of suicidal ideation and its risk factors was evaluated.
A total of 56,679 participants (27,149 males and 29,530 females) were included. The overall prevalence of suicidal ideation was 16.4%, including 10.9% seldom, 4.1% often, and 1.4% always suicidal ideation. The prevalence of suicidal ideation was higher in males (19.1%) and individuals aged 18–24 years (24.7%) than in females (14.0%) and those aged 45 years and older (11.9%). Suicidal ideation was more prevalent in individuals with suspected or confirmed infection (63.0%), frontline workers (19.2%), and people with pre-existing mental disorders (41.6%). Experience of quarantine, unemployed, and increased psychological stress during the pandemic were associated with an increased risk of suicidal ideation and its severity. However, paying more attention to and gaining a better understanding of COVID-19-related knowledge, especially information about psychological interventions, could reduce the risk.
The estimated prevalence of suicidal ideation among the general population in China during COVID-19 was significant. The findings will be important for improving suicide prevention strategies during COVID-19.
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