The number of suicides fell during the two confinements of 2020, the National Suicide Observatory (ONS) said on Tuesday, also reporting an “increase in anxiety-depressive disorders and sleep difficulties” at the start of the pandemic.
Contrary to what was feared, the pandemic did not lead to “an immediate increase in suicidal behavior”, revealed on Tuesday, September 6, the National Suicide Observatory (ONS) in a report on the impact of the crisis of the Covid-19.
The pandemic has had “contrasting effects” on the French population, estimates the observatory of the direction of Research, Studies, Evaluation and Statistics (DREES) – the statistics service of the health and social ministries – evoking a general decrease in suicides during the 2020 confinements and a differentiated evolution of suicidal gestures according to the populations.
Suicidal gestures even “decreased at the start of the pandemic despite an increase in anxiety-depressive disorders and sleep difficulties”, writes the organization.
Deaths by suicide in the general population thus fell by 20% and 8% during the two confinements of 2020 compared to previous years, and short-stay hospitalizations for self-inflicted injuries by 10% in 2020 compared to the previous year. period 2017-2019, he assesses.
These figures, which have yet to be consolidated, correspond to data “collected in other countries of similar economic level”, and suggest that the confinements “have been able to punctually reduce the risk of suicide” thanks to the “feeling of sharing a collective ordeal ” or even because of “increased surveillance by relatives”.
Increase in depressive syndromes
However, this decline did not continue outside of confinement, because “the overall number of deaths by suicide, their distribution by age or place of death” between the beginning of January 2020 and the end of March 2021 “do not appear to have been affected. by the pandemic”, continues the ONS.
Another lesson from the report: since the end of 2020, hospitalizations for self-inflicted injuries have increased significantly for “adolescent girls and young women, in contrast to the rest of the population”, points out the observatory.
The latter were affected “by the first confinement, with an increase in depressive syndromes, which did not return to pre-pandemic levels once past its most acute phases”, he underlines, referring to the “role of accentuation” of pre-existing psychological vulnerabilities played by Covid-19 in young people from disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds.
The DREES, however, calls for a cautious interpretation of these figures because of possible “rebound effects” and the “general downward trend in suicidal behavior, observable since the 1980s”.