NIH Research Festival
Objective: The COVID-19 pandemic has led to increased anxiety, depression, and alcohol-related mortality. Individuals with a history of suicidality may be especially vulnerable to the adverse impact of COVID-related stressors. This study investigated the longitudinal effects of suicidality history and interactions with COVID-related stressors on anxiety symptoms, depressive symptoms, and problematic drinking.
Methods: Longitudinal data from 518 participants were drawn from the NIAAA Natural History Protocol and the NIAAA COVID-19 Pandemic Impact on Alcohol Study. History of suicidality was assessed using the clinician administered Columbia Suicide Severity Rating Scale. Multiple regression analyses tested the interaction between suicidality history and COVID-related stressors on clinical outcomes.
Results: Compared with individuals without any history of suicidality (79.7%), individuals with a history of suicide ideation only (14.7%) and suicide attempt (5.6%) had higher anxiety symptoms, depressive symptoms, and problematic drinking during the pandemic. COVID-related stressors were positively associated with clinical outcomes. Moderation analyses indicated that the associations between COVID-related stressors and mental health symptoms were stronger among individuals with suicide attempt history than individuals without suicidality history. Problematic drinking was elevated during the later phases of the pandemic.
Conclusions: History of suicide ideation and/or attempt longitudinally predicted higher pandemic mental health symptoms and problematic drinking increased during the later phases of the pandemic. Individuals with a history of suicide attempt may more easily develop mental health symptoms in the face of COVID-related stressors. Suicide risk assessment and surveillance of problematic drinking trends may inform targeted prevention and intervention amidst a global public health crisis.
Scientific Focus Area: Social and Behavioral Sciences
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