Have deaths of despair risen during the COVID-19 pandemic? A systematic review

Hania Rahimi-Ardabili, Xiaoqi Feng, Phi-Yen Nguyen, Thomas Astell-Burt

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)
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This systematic review synthesized literature on potential impacts of protracted isolation and other disruptions during the COVID-19 pandemic on deaths of despair (suicide, overdoses, and drug-related liver diseases). Five electronic databases were searched yielding 70 eligible articles. Extant evidence mostly from high-income countries indicates COVID-19-related disruption may not have influenced suicide rates so far, but there have been reports of increased drug-related and liver disease mortality. Minority groups and women were more vulnerable, indicating the need for stronger equity focus on pandemic recovery and resilience strategies. Further high-quality studies with longer-term follow-up, especially from low-income countries, will inform these strategies.
Original languageEnglish
Article number12835
Pages (from-to)1-12
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number19
Publication statusPublished - 7 Oct 2022

Bibliographical note

Copyright the Author(s) 2022. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


  • deaths of despair
  • overdose
  • suicide
  • COVID-19
  • systematic review


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