National Suicide Prevention Leadership Group: COVID-19 statement

COVID-19 statement by the National Suicide Prevention Leadership Group (NSPLG), including recommendations on pandemic specific priorities.

Appendix A — Public health responses to mitigating suicide risk associated with the COVID-19 pandemic

Selective and indicated interventions

(Target individuals who are at heightened risk of suicide or are actively suicidal; designed to reduce risk of suicide among these individuals)

Mental Illness

Mental health services and individual providers

deliver care in different ways (e.g. digital modalities);

develop support for healthcare staff affected by adverse exposures (e.g. multiple traumatic deaths);

ensure frontline staff are adequately supported, given breaks and protective equipment, and can access additional support


Adequate resourcing for interventions

Experience of suicidal crisis

Mental health services and individual providers

Clear assessment and care pathways for people who are suicidal, including guidelines for remote assessment;

digital resources to train expanded workforce;

evidence-based online interventions and applications

Crisis helplines

Maintain or increase volunteer workforce and offer more flexible ways of working; digital resources to train expanded workforce; evidence based online interventions and applications


Adequate resourcing for interventions

Universal interventions

(Target the whole population and focus on particular risk factors without identifying specific individuals with those risk factors; designed to improve mental health and reduce suicide risk across the population)

Financial stressors


Provide financial safety nets (e.g. food, housing and unemployment supports, emergency loans); ensure longer term measures (e.g. active labour market programmes) are put in place

Domestic violence


Public health responses that ensure that those facing domestic violence have access to support and can leave home

Alcohol consumption


Public health responses that include messaging about monitoring alcohol intake and reminders about safe drinking

Isolation entrapment, loneliness, and bereavement


Provide support for those who are living alone

Friends and family

Check in regularly, if necessary via digital alternatives to face-to-face meetings

Mental health services and individual providers

Ensure easily accessible help is available for bereaved individuals


Adequate resourcing for interventions

Access to means


Vigilance when dealing with distressed individuals

Government and non-governmental organisations

Carefully framed messages about the importance of restricting access to commonly used and highly lethal suicide methods

Irresponsible media reporting

Media professionals

Moderate reporting, in line with existing and modified guidelines

Researchers and data monitoring experts

Enhanced surveillance of risk factors related to COVID-19 (e.g., via suicide and self-harm registers, population-based surveys, and real-time data from crisis helplines)

Reproduced from Gunnell, D., Appleby, L., Arensman, E., Hawton, K., John, A., Kapur, N., Khan, M., O'Connor, R. C., Pirkis, J., & COVID-19 Suicide Prevention Research Collaboration (2020). Suicide risk and prevention during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Lancet. Psychiatry, 7(6), 468–471.



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