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The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic is an unprecedented global health crisis that may cause mental health problems and heighten suicide risk. We investigated the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on trends in suicide attempts and suicide deaths in New Taipei City, Taiwan.
The current study used the official daily data on suicide attempts and deaths in New Taipei City, Taiwan (4 million inhabitants) between 2015 and 2020 from the Taiwan National Suicide Prevention Reporting System. Interrupted time-series (ITS) analyses with parameters corrected by the estimated autocorrelations were applied on weekly aggregated data to examine whether the suicide trends during the early COVID-19 pandemic (late January to July 2020) deviated from previous trends (January 2015 to late January 2020). The impact due to the suicide prevention policy change was also examined (since August 2020).
ITS analyses revealed no significant increases in both mean and trend on weekly suicide deaths during the COVID-19 pandemic and after the policy change. In contrast, there was a significant increasing trend in weekly suicide attempts since the COVID-19 outbreak at the rate of 1.54 attempts per week (95% confidence interval 0.49–2.60; p = 0.004). Sex difference analysis revealed that, however, this increasing trend was observed only in females not in males.
The COVID-19 pandemic has different impacts on suicides attempts and deaths during the early pandemic in New Taipei City, Taiwan. The COVID-19 outbreak drastically increased the trend of suicide attempts. In contrast, the number of suicide deaths had remained constant in the investigated periods.
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