Methods. A cross-sectional, online survey was administered in January 2021 to emerging adults 18 to 29 recruited through Qualtrics Panels (N = 1,080). Six self-report, retrospective measures of financial hardships were included. These measures assess financial strains since the start of Covid-19 around food security, housing security, bill payment, medical care and prescription, and childcare. Suicide-related outcomes included self-reported suicidal ideation and attempt in the past 12 months. Descriptive statistics and logistic regressions were used to model associations between each type of financial hardship and suicide-related outcomes, controlling for demographic and socio-economic variables.
Results. We found that during the Covid-19, 40% of our sample had experienced at least one financial hardship out of six examined. Among all hardships, most respondents had difficulty in paying bills (29.83%, n=321), followed by paying rents or mortgage (21.94%, n=235) and affording medical care (20.67%, n=223). About 15% reported difficulty paying for prescription, while about 11% couldn’t afford childcare. Bivariate analysis showed suicide ideation were significantly associated with all financial hardships except childcare hardship. Suicide attempts were associated with hardships related to bill payment, affording medical care and filing prescription. Multivariate logistic regressions controlling for demographic and socioeconomic covariates showed that cumulative financial hardships were predictive of suicide ideation (OR = 1.27, z = 4.99) as well as suicidal attempts (OR = 1.33, z = 4.58).
Conclusions and Implications. This study indicates that financial hardships triggered by the Covid-19 pandemic – including difficulties in paying bills, affording food and medical care, paying mortgage or rent – has potential to contribute to higher rates of suicide. The finding that cumulative financial hardships were significantly associated with increased suicide risks underscores the need to examine each financial strain for optimal assessment and specific prevention of suicide.