Evidence from pandemic and pre-pandemic studies conducted globally indicates that people with disabilities (PWDs) have a higher risk for suicidality. However, none of these studies has assessed suicidality among PWDs in Bangladesh.
The purpose of this study was to determine the prevalence of and factors associated with suicidal ideation among PWDs during the COVID-19 pandemic in Bangladesh.
Using a snowball sampling technique, a cross-sectional survey was conducted from February to April 2021 among PWDs from six districts in the northern region of Bangladesh. Information related to sociodemographic factors, clinical characteristics, behavioural factors and suicidal ideation was collected. Chi-squared test and logistic regression were used to describe the data and explain the relationship of factors associated with suicidal ideation.
The prevalence of COVID-19-related past-year suicidal ideation was 23.9%. The factors associated with suicidal ideation included: age above 35 years, being female, acquiring a disability later in life, lack of sleep and current substance use. In addition, higher education appeared to be a protective factor against suicidal ideation.
This study highlighted that PWDs had an increased risk of suicide; that is, one-fourth of them had past-year suicidal ideation. This may have been because of COVID-19-related restrictions and stressors. Thus, the government and policy makers need to pay more attention to developing effective suicide assessment, treatment and management strategies, especially for at-risk groups, to minimise the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak.