Illicit Drug Users More Likely to Seriously Consider Suicide

Caroline Cassels

January 16, 2014

Illicit drug users are significantly more likely to consider suicide compared with the general population, new research shows.

A new report from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) shows that the rate of suicidal thoughts among illicit drugs users in the United States was 9.4% compared with a rate of 3.9% in the general population.

In addition, the study revealed that the percentage of adults who had serious thoughts of suicide varied by the type of illicit substance used. For example, although 9.6% of adults who had used marijuana in the past year had seriously considered suicide, the rate was 20.9% for their counterparts who had engaged in illicit use of sedatives.

Rates of serious thoughts of suicide in the past by selected illicit drug use were as follows:

  • Any illicit drug, 9.4%

  • Marijuana, 9.6%

  • Hallucinogens, 14.2%

  • Cocaine, 14.7%

  • Inhalants, 17.4%

  • Pain relievers (nonmedical use), 13.0%

  • Tranquilizers (nonmedical use), 14.0%

  • Stimulants (nonmedical use), 18.1%

  • Sedatives (nonmedical use), 20.9%

"Suicide takes a devastating toll on individuals, families and communities across our nation. 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," Peter Delany, director of SAMHSA's Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Health, said in a release.

The report is based on findings from SAMHSA's 2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), which is a scientifically conducted annual survey of approximately 70,000 people aged 12 years and older in the United States.

The NSDUH Report. January 16, 2014.

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