J Korean Med Sci.  2021 Aug;36(34):e243. 10.3346/jkms.2021.36.e243.

Association of the COVID-19 Pandemic and Low-rescue Suicide Attempts in Patients Visiting the Emergency Department after Attempting Suicide

  • 1Department of Emergency Medicine, Incheon St. Mary's Hospital, College of Medicine, The Catholic University of Korea, Seoul, Korea
  • 2Department of Emergency Medicine, Daejeon St. Mary's Hospital, College of Medicine, The Catholic University of Korea, Seoul, Korea
  • 3Department of Counseling Psychology, Graduate School of Theology, Seoul Theological University, Bucheon, Korea


The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic may increase the total number of suicide attempts and the proportion of low-rescue attempts. We investigated the factors affecting low-rescue suicide attempts using the risk-rescue rating scale (RRRS) among patients who visited the emergency department (ED) after attempting suicide before or during the COVID-19 pandemic.
We retrospectively investigated suicide attempts made by patients who visited our ED from March 2019 to September 2020. Patients were classified into two groups based on whether they attempted suicide before or during the COVID-19 pandemic. Data on demographic variables, psychiatric factors, suicide risk factors and rescue factors were collected and compared.
A total of 518 patients were included in the study, 275 (53.1%) of whom attempted suicide during the COVID-19 pandemic. The proportion of patients who made low-rescue suicide attempts differed before and during the COVID-19 pandemic (37.1% vs. 28.8%) (P = 0.046). However, the proportions of patients who made high-risk suicide attempts and high-lethality suicide attempts did not significantly differ between the two periods. The independent risk factors for low-rescue suicide attempts were age and the COVID-19 pandemic (odds ratio [OR], 1.02; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.00–1.03; P = 0.006) (OR, 1.52; 95% CI, 1.03–2.25; P = 0.034).
The COVID-19 pandemic was associated with low-rescue suicide attempts in patients visiting the ED after attempting suicide. Thus, we need to consider the implementation of measures to prevent low-rescue suicide attempts during similar infectious disease crises.


Suicide; Mental Health; Emergencies; COVID-19


  • Fig. 1 Frequencies of scores before and during the COVID-19 pandemic.Values are expressed as number (%) and the χ2 test was used for statistical analysis.COVID-19 = coronavirus disease 2019.***P < 0.001.


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