Drug-Related Suicide Attempts on the Rise
The government has reported that in the United States, emergency room (ER) visits for drug-related suicide attempts by young adult males rose 55 percent between the years 2005 and 2009. Many people might wonder about the reason for this dramatic increase. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services group has published a report stating that, “The misuse of prescription drugs is clearly helping to fuel the problem.” Let’s look at a few more statistics so we can get a real idea of what is going on in this country: In 2009, 29,000 men between the ages of 21 and 34 went to the emergency room for medication-related suicide attempts, compared to just 19,000 in 2005.
How do drugs play into this picture? Statistics show that ER visits for suicide attempts that were drug-related rose 155% in four years. These surveys tracked young adult male ER trips, focusing on antidepressant overdoses. In surveys of cases involving anti-anxiety and insomnia medications, figures rose 93 percent. Drug-related suicide attempts involving narcotic pain relievers nearly doubled among men aged 35 to 49 and drug-related suicide attempts among men aged 50 and older almost tripled. All of these findings were based on reports from the Drug Abuse Warning network and were taken for the years 2005 to 2009.
From these statistics alone there is an indication that prescription drugs are being prescribed to patients at a high rate and that these drugs are proving to be not so safe. In fact, this is an indication that they are being abused.
Drug rehabs are finding that more and more people are resorting to prescription drug abuse to “solve” their problems and are becoming addicted.
Clearly, we all need to be more aware of the warning signs and risk factors for suicide. One of the most obvious risk factors is the abuse of alcohol and drugs. When someone says to you that they have a deeply hopeless feeling or that they feel like they have no purpose in life, you may want to consider whether they are at an increased risk for suicide. Other signs are anxious or reckless behavior. You may notice that they have increased their alcohol and drug use. They may exhibit withdrawal or protest feelings of isolation and may have noticeable mood swings.
Take the time to read the pamphlets about side effects that come with every prescription drug that you have filled. Some of them recommend that you discontinue use of the drug, “if you experience thoughts of suicide.” This advice comes directly from the people who manufacture these drugs, so we would all do well to heed these warnings.
When our loved ones are abusing drugs, it is often confusing for the family. Paying attention to warning signs may even be more confusing. If your loved one is talking about suicide—two things to keep in mind: Remember that drugs can contribute importantly to suicidal thoughts. And remember that there is help out there. Something can be done.