Recent research suggested that COVID-19-related multiple mental health problems were associated with an increased risk for suicidal ideations (SIs), but population-based data demonstrating these associations are scarce. This study aimed to estimate the cumulative effects of psychological risk factors on SIs during the outbreak and remission periods of COVID-19 using a cumulative risk model, as well as sex differences.
A total of 68,685 college students in China participated in the survey during two phases of the pandemic (T1 and T2). Mental health risks (acute stress, depression, anxiety, insomnia, and obsessive-compulsive symptoms) and sociodemographic characteristics were measured at T1, and SIs were assessed at T1 and T2. Hierarchical regression analysis was used to determine the combined effect of multiple mental health problems on SIs at T1 and T2.
The prevalence of SIs increased from the early periods of the COVID-19 pandemic (7.6%) to the later periods (10.0%). Depression was a powerful risk factor for SIs during the COVID-19 pandemic. Individuals with >3 mental risks would be most likely to experience rapidly increasing SIs during the early periods of the COVID-19 pandemic. Sex exerted different effects on the cumulative risk model of SIs.
Interventions, such as mental health education and improving utilization of student support services, should be implemented. There is a crucial need for early intervention and prevention efforts aimed at males with greater than three mental health problems.

Copyright © 2021. Published by Elsevier B.V.