It is no surprise that COVID-19 has been associated with an increase in stress and anxiety. With a lack of social support, financial hardships and other challenging factors, there is understandably concern that suicide rates might increase.
In response, researchers at the College of Social Work (CoSW) are looking at how, for some people, the experience of living through a suicide attempt, isolation and struggle might lead to more resilience in the face of COVID-19 than for people who have not had these prior experiences.
The study, Mental Health & Suicide Attempt Survivors in the Time of COVID-19, will survey 1,650 people with a history of suicide attempt, depression or anxiety and compare them to 500 people without.
Dr. Julie Cerel, Director of the Suicide Prevention & Exposure Lab (SPEL) at the CoSW, and lead investigator for the project said the results will expand researchers’ understanding of resiliency for suicide attempt survivors and uncover strategies to decrease suicide risk for the population overall.
“I’ve heard people say, ‘this is really hard but I’ve been though much harder times than this,’” said Cerel, “It really made me think that we need to be talking to suicide attempt survivors to learn how their experiences make them more resilient in the face of really hard times like COVID-19 social restrictions.”
The research project is part of a series of studies funded to examine social and behavioral issues related to the evolving COVID-19 pandemic. The Center for Clinical and Translational Science at the University of Kentucky, in collaboration with the UK CURE Alliance team, has launched a pilot funding program for research projects. Research for the UK CURE COVID-19 program falls into three Cure Core areas: Health and Biomedical Science, Materials and Methods, and Social Sciences. Cerel serves as the Core Leader for Cure Core 3 Social Science.