Mental Health and Substance Use During COVID-19: Spotlight on Suicidal Ideation and Substance Use

Mental Health Commission of Canada

People with substance use concerns are among those most likely to report thoughts about suicide, according to our latest Leger poll. While everyone has been affected by stresses brought on by two years of the pandemic, it’s clear that not everyone has been impacted equally. Thoughts of suicide are also more common among youth, ethno-racialized groups and people who are unemployed.

… Key Findings:

  • 7.9% of those surveyed reported seriously contemplating suicide.
  • About 1 in 3 people with a history of substance use disorders reported suicidal ideation during the pandemic (30.2% of women and 35.7% of men).
  • About 1 in 6 people with current substance use concerns reported suicidal ideation during the pandemic (17.4% of women and 16.4% of men).
  • Rates of suicidal ideation have been high among youth (16.6%) and Black respondents (15%).
  • People who were unemployed, either prior to (15.3%) or during the pandemic (16.3%), were more likely to report suicidal ideation compared with people who were employed (7.9%).
  • Past-month suicidal ideation was highest from May to September 2021, with rates of up to 4.9% for the general population. More recently, these rates have been declining (3.8% in January 2022).
  • Despite increased mental health and substance use concerns, access to services has remained relatively low.

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