Journal of Emergencies, Trauma, and Shock
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Year : 2022  |  Volume : 15  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 88-92

Effect of the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic on suicide-related trauma burden at a Level 1 trauma center

1 Department of Surgery, New York-Presbyterian/Queens, Queens, New York, USA
2 Department of Surgery, Weill Cornell Medicine, New York-Presbyterian, New York, USA

Correspondence Address:
Claire M Eden
Department of Surgery, New York-Presbyterian/Queens, No. 56-45 Main St, Queens, New York 11355
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/jets.jets_142_21

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Introduction: In March 2020, the first coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases were reported in New York and a stay-at-home order was enacted soon after. Social isolation combined with pandemic-related stressors profoundly affected mental health. We hypothesize that there was an increase in violent suicide attempt during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown compared to previous years. Methods: We queried our institutional trauma registry for total number of trauma activations and identified adult patients with International Classification of Diseases-10 diagnosis of intentional self-harm. We compared incidence during the lockdown to corresponding time periods from previous years. Demographic and injury characteristics were compared, as were outcomes such as mortality. Results: We observe a significant uptrend in patients requiring trauma intervention after suicide attempts from July 2019 through July 2020 (r = 0.8, P < 0.001) despite a significant downtrend in trauma volume at our institution during the same period (r = ‒0.7, P = 0.003). Although not statistically significant, patients attempting violent suicide during lockdown were more likely to have preexisting psychiatric diagnoses, to live alone, to have injury severity score >9, and to require surgical intervention. Three COVID-period patients died in the emergency room compared to zero in the comparison group. Conclusion: Our data show a rise in violent suicide attempts during the pandemic lockdown despite an overall decrease in trauma volume. The ramifications of a stay-at-home order seem to have the most profound impact on individuals with preexisting mental health disease. Early establishment of mental health outreach programs may mitigate the reverberating psychosocial consequences of a pandemic.

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