Smoking, suicide risk, and the COVID-19 pandemic
Leo Sher, M.D.
My commentary, “Smoking enhances suicide risk-a significant role in the COVID-19 pandemic?” has recently been published in the QJM: An International Journal of Medicine (1). A summary of my article is below:
The COVID-19 outbreak has severely affected the whole world. Considerable evidence suggests that tobacco smoking is associated with increased severity of COVID-19 and death in COVID-19 patients. Tobacco smoking cessation is necessary to decrease COVID-19-related hospitalizations and deaths. In this commentary, I suggest that tobacco smoking cessation is also needed to reduce suicidal behavior during and after the COVID-19 pandemic. Significant evidence suggests that the COVID-19 pandemic leads to increased tobacco consumption as smokers use more tobacco to cope with pandemic-related stress, anxiety, depression and loneliness. Multiple studies have demonstrated that tobacco smoking is associated with suicidal ideation, suicide attempts, suicide death and a contributing factor in the pathophysiology of suicide. Smoking may increase the probability of development of post-COVID syndrome because it increases severity of COVID-19. Suicide risk may be increased in individuals with post-COVID syndrome. Smoking prevention and cessation should be a target of suicide prevention interventions during and after the COVID-19 pandemic. The COVID-19 pandemic enhances the need to act to integrate tobacco smoking cessation in the health care as a standard of patient care.
1. Sher L. Smoking enhances suicide risk-a significant role in the COVID-19 pandemic? QJM. 2022 Jan 5;114(11):767-769. doi: 10.1093/qjmed/hcab271.