U.S. adult illicit drug users have higher suicide risk

Jan. 18, 2014 at 6:02 PM
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WASHINGTON, Jan. 18 (UPI) -- U.S. adults who use illicit drugs are far more likely than the general adult population to seriously consider suicide, health officials say.

A report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, found 3.9 percent of the nation's adult population age 18 or older had serious thoughts about suicide in the past year, but the rate among adult illicit drug users was 9.4 percent.

The percentage of adults who had serious thoughts of suicide varied by the type of illicit substance used.

For example, while 9.6 percent of U.S. adults who had used marijuana in the past year had serious thoughts of suicide during that period, the level was 20.9 percent for adults who had used sedatives non-medically in the past year, the report said.

"Suicide takes a devastating toll on individuals, families and communities across our nation," Dr. Peter Delany, director of SAMHSA's Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality, said in a statement. "We must reach out to all segments of our community to provide them with the support and treatment they need so that we can help prevent more needless deaths and shattered lives."

The report was based on a scientifically conducted annual survey of approximately 70,000 people throughout the country.

Those in crisis or who know someone they believe may be at immediate risk of attempting suicide are urged to call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or go to http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org.

The Suicide Prevention Lifeline network, funded by SAMHSA, provides immediate free and confidential, round-the-clock crisis counseling to anyone in need throughout the country, every day of the year.

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