If you are in distress, you can text WELLNESS to 741741 at any time. If it is an emergency, call 9-1-1 or go to your local emergency department.

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

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

COVID-19 continues to seriously impact mental health and substance use concerns

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.

A fifth report from the series of Leger polls commissioned by the Mental Health Commission of Canada and the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction focuses on the intersection of substance use and suicidal ideation during the pandemic. It highlights community resilience by featuring a cannabis and medication lockbox used in the Meadow Lake Roots of Hope project. The report includes a survey of more than 13,000 people in Canada and cross-sectional findings collected over nine time periods between October 2020 and January 2022.

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.

Feedback Form

Hey, there! Thanks for checking out this resource. We’d love it if you could share a little more info about yourself and how you got here (What kind of information were you looking for? Did this resource help?). Doing so will help us create better content in the future. Thanks!

Disclaimer:

  • The completion of the form is voluntary.
  • The information collected will be used solely and exclusively by the Mental Health Commission of Canada to improve the quality of our documents.
Are you willing to be contacted within 3 to 6 months for a short follow-up survey?
In case of “Yes” – please provide an email address

Disclaimer

Your feedback will only be used for feedback purposes. Thank-you for participating in our feedback program.

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

SHARE THIS PAGE

RELATED

It has been two years since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Since October 2020, the Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC) and the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and...

Of the estimated 4,000 suicide deaths in Canada each year, 75 per cent are men. Suicide is the country’s second leading cause of death for men aged 15-39 (after accidental...

People 65 years and older, especially men, have a high risk of suicide. As Canada’s largest population group, the baby boomers, approach the plus 65 age range, we may see...