black sand dunes
Photo by Adrien Olichon on

It is very likely1 that suicides increased significantly in the Isle of Man in 2020 compared to previous years. As I wrote back in February, “The reported surge for 2020 is more than 4 standard deviations from the previous mean, so it is certainly statistically significant (it is not just random noise).”

But the Isle of Man’s data here is weird. It is very different to the results in other, larger countries: “there are studies [showing suicide rates] somewhere between “flat” and “declined” from NorwayEnglandGermanySweden, and New Zealand.”2

Second is the US. The US Centers for Disease Control recently released their “nowcast” of 2020 deaths. These use the limited amount of data they have now to predict what the trends will look like once all the data comes in; their prediction process seems reasonable and we can probably treat the figures as canonical.

Why didn’t suicides rise during Covid?

This is the weekly data for the USA, where a very obvious drop in suicides was recorded from March onwards:

The longer article, Why didn’t suicides rise during Covid? is interesting, but I think the most certain point is its final, closing, point:

Overall I have to admit I don’t have a single satisfying explanation. On the bright side, we’ll get a lot more data soon. In a year or two, the CDC (and its international equivalents) can publish their full analysis of 2020 deaths, and we’ll learn more about suicides by age, race, gender, class, suicide method, et cetera.

Why didn’t suicides rise during Covid?

If you, or someone you know, is at risk of suicide, please call Samaritans here on the Isle of Man. Their phone number is 116 123 (tap to call; free from any phone) and they have a branch at 5 Victoria Place, Douglas.

  1. see the notes in my previous post on this issue
  2. Why didn’t suicides rise during Covid?