Covid-19: ‘No evidence’ pandemic has led to significant increase in suicides

Report from Kildare coroner notes provisional suicide trends from county need further study

‘No indication’ the pandemic has resulted in any significant increase of deaths due to suicide

‘No indication’ the pandemic has resulted in any significant increase of deaths due to suicide

 

There is no indication the coronavirus pandemic has led to “any significant increase” in deaths by suicide, according to a report from the coroner for Co Kildare.

Prof Denis Cusack, coroner for Kildare, said a preliminary investigation of suspected deaths by suicide in the county “does indicate some upward change”, when compared to the previous five years.

Although the numbers of suicides last year were higher than previous years, the overall numbers remained small and “has not increased significantly,” he said.

“There is no indication from preliminary analysis that the Covid-19 pandemic has resulted in any significant increase of deaths due to suicide, but some preliminary provisional trends from Kildare need to be monitored and to be examined nationally,” he said.

The overall number of deaths in Co Kildare notified to the coroner increased by 53 per cent since the start of the pandemic, the report said.

The report, published on Tuesday, studied the number of notified deaths between March 2020 and February 2021.

Prof Cusack said deaths related to Covid-19 had accounted for 77 per cent of the total excess deaths in the county. In nursing homes the figure was higher, with Covid-19 linked to 96 per cent of the excess deaths recorded.

The coroner noted there were underlying medical conditions in all but two of the notified deaths, with 82 the average age of those who died.

More than half had cardiovascular conditions, while a quarter had a respiratory medical condition, the report said.

Deaths from Covid-19 in nursing homes peaked sharply in April 2020, as significant outbreaks hit a number of the vulnerable facilities during the first wave of the virus.

Of the 230 deaths linked to Covid-19 notified to the coroner, 163 were residents in nursing homes or other long-term residential facilities, and 60 deaths occurred in hospitals.

The number of deaths in nursing homes was 54 per cent higher than the average over the previous five years, the report said.

Outbreaks in five Co Kildare nursing homes accounted for 106 deaths, nearly two thirds of the total of those who died in the sector. Thirty-six residents died in one nursing home in the county, the report said.

Prof Cusack said the high mortality rates from the virus in nursing homes highlighted the need for a “new paradigm for care of the elderly and vulnerable”.

There needed to be a review of the use of personal protective equipment and decision-making in nursing homes, he said.

* Members of the public who need emotional support are asked to contact the Samaritans on 116 123 or Pieta House on 1800 247 247. People in distress can also text the word Help to Pieta House on 51444.