COVID-19 and suicide
Research shows that most people cope well during natural disasters such as pandemics. People may feel stressed or anxious but most will cope. A minority of people, however, will develop emotional and other problems. During the SARS outbreak in 2003 in Hong Kong, there was an increase in suicides among seniors (> 65yrs). Among seniors, the suicide rate tripled from previous years, to 38 suicides per 100,000 people. Seniors who committed suicide tended to be socially isolated, lonely, and worried about being a burden on their families. SARS and COVID-19 differ in some important ways, so we should be cautious about drawing generalizations. Nevertheless, we need to be alert to the potential problem of elder suicide during the current pandemic, and make sure that these people receive the support they need.