Reinforce the follow-up of hospitalizations for attempted suicide

2023-07-06 08:51:55

According to an analysis by Public Health France published in the latest Weekly Epidemiological Bulletin (BEH) dated July 4, 2023, the pandemic, by the duration and importance of the social restriction measures and the constraints it has caused, may have had an impact on mental health, including suicide attempts. Increased surveillance of hospitalizations for this reason, particularly among adolescents and young adults, is deemed necessary.

It is in this context that Public Health France compared hospitalizations for attempted suicide (HTS) in 2020 and during the first part of 2021 compared to previous years. These were analyzed by age group, sex and modalities used for the suicide attempt. All short stays in public and private French establishments of people aged 10 and over hospitalized between January 2, 2017 and May 31, 2021 for a suicidal gesture were selected.

Faced with the deterioration of mental health, fears around an increase in suicidal acts during and after the pandemic quickly emerged, supported by several factors: the increase in suicidal ideation reported in certain studies1 , the increase in the rates of during the epidemic, the presence of which is classically associated with an increase in suicidal acts2, and the impact of the longer-term consequences of the epidemic (unemployment, financial problems, reduced access to education and bereavement) .

In 2020, the estimated STH rate for all ages was 13.3 per 10,000, compared to 14.8 in 2019 and 15.2 in 2018. During the first confinement, STH rates were lower to those observed on average between 2017 and 2019 regardless of gender, with the exception of men aged 75 and over. These rates remained lower for people between 35 and 85 years old. However, they gradually increased among young people aged 11-24, until they became significantly higher than the 2017-19 average after the second lockdown (and from the second lockdown for girls aged 10-14). Recourse to violent methods therefore appears to be more frequent regardless of age.

“These results warn of an impairment of the psychological and emotional well-being of young women during the crisis, which does not seem to diminish in the medium term. This phenomenon deserves to be studied in more depth, taking into account the different determinants that govern its evolution”.

These results converge with those of other indicators and highlight a psychological suffering still present at the end of the observation period among adolescents and young adults, who seem particularly affected by the social and economic upheavals induced by the health crisis. Regular monitoring of the “hospitalizations for attempted suicide” indicator is essential as part of the epidemiological monitoring system for mental health, particularly among adolescents and young adults, in the future.

1- Iob E, Steptoe A, Fancourt D. Abuse, self-harm and suicidal ideation in the UK during the COVID-19 pandemic. Br J Psychiatry. 2020;217(4):543-6.
2- Hawton K, van Heeringen K. Suicide. Lancet. 2009;373(9672):1372-81.

• Hospitalizations for attempted suicide in acute care facilities in France during COVID-19 infection: National temporal trends in 2020-2021. Philippe Pirard, Francis Chin, Imane Khiréddine, Sarah Tebeka, Nolwenn Regnault, Public Health France, Saint-Maurice. To be found in the BEH of July 4, 2023, page 230.

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