One in 10 people had experienced suicidal thoughts by the end of the first six weeks of lockdown, according to new research.
The study, which looked at three “waves” of lockdown between 31 March and 11 May, found the restrictions had a major impact on the UK population’s mental health, hitting young people, women and those with pre-existing mental health problems the hardest.
The research, led by the University of Glasgow, found suicidal thoughts increased over the first six weeks of lockdown, with one in 10 people (9.8 per cent) reporting them by the end of this period.
However, other factors related to suicide risk such as symptoms of anxiety, levels of defeat and entrapment decreased across the same period, while depressive symptoms and loneliness remained relatively stable.
“While public health measures, such as lockdown, have been necessary to protect the general population, we know the effects of Covid-19 on the population’s mental health and wellbeing are likely to be profound and long-lasting,” Professor Rory O’Connor, from Glasgow University, said.
“The findings from our study, showing in particular the increasing rates of suicidal thoughts, especially among young adults, is concerning and show that we must be vigilant to this at-risk group.”
The study, which surveyed a national sample of 3,077 adults in the UK, was carried out in collaboration with the Samaritans, the Scottish Association for Mental Health and the Mindstep Foundation.
It assessed a range of mental health factors, including pre-existing mental health problems, suicide attempts and self-harm, suicidal thoughts, depression, anxiety, feelings of defeat, feelings of entrapment, mental wellbeing and loneliness.