Background: Studies show that the COVID-19 pandemic has promoted distress
and stress-related symptoms in the general population. It has also increased the suicide
rate in vulnerable groups who cannot handle the social and psychological consequences
of the pandemic and the measures in place to halt it.
Objective: In this study, we compared the lethality of suicide attempts and the methods
chosen between the three months before the COVID-19 pandemic and three months during
curfew and lockdown in Saudi Arabia.
Methods: This is a retrospective, causal-comparative study conducted at King Saud Medical
City in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. A total of 62 suicide attempt cases between January
2020 and June 2020 were included in this study. The scale for assessment of the lethality
of suicide attempts (SALSA) was used for comparison, and cross-tabulation was used for
the data of suicide methods.
Results: There was a significant difference (P = 0.003) in the total SALSA score before
and during the COVID-19 lockdown. The scores of the lethality of suicide attempts were
high during the lockdown. No significant difference was found in the suicide methods
selected between the two time periods. However, the use of psychotropic medication
overdose and self-immolation were prominent during the lockdown period.
Conclusion: Our findings suggest that the lockdown during the COVID-19 pandemic is
likely associated with increased lethality of suicide attempts as well as an increased suicide
rate. The development of appropriate mental health services is required.