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High Suicide Rates Linked With Increased Substance Abuse Problems

Posted Mar 25 2012 8:59pm

Suicide is the eleventh most common cause of death in the United States. Among suicide rates, substance abuse is the second most common risk factor, next to depression and other psychological disorders. Drug and alcohol abuse tragically accounts for more than 50% of suicides among adolescents. The World Health Organization estimates that suicide is the 13th leading cause of death around the world, among those 35 and under.  Substance abuse produces dependency on substances and depression for the users. Feeling powerless and hopeless in the battle of addiction or abuse problems can increase the risk for suicide. Drugs and alcohol also impair the user's thought process and problem solving capability, while increasing their aggression. These combined also greatly increase the suicide risks.

As substance abuse problems increase, the high suicide rates will continue to grow. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an estimated 90 people will die per day from suicide and around 32,000 people will die from suicide per year in the United States. In 90% of suicide cases, the individual had mental health problems and/or substance abuse problems. Not all who have substance abuse problems will have suicidal thoughts and actions, but taking the chance has risks that are far too great to take.

Substances and Their Effects Associated With Suicide    

While all substances can influence suicidal thoughts and actions, there are some that tend to have a stronger affect than others. Heroin, alcohol, cocaine, prescription drugs, and methamphetamine all have high suicides associated with them. Below is a brief explanation of the effects of each.

Suicide is a major concern for those who use heroin. Studies have shown that an individual who uses heroin is 14 times more likely to commit suicide than non-heroin users.

There is a very high suicide rate among those who abuse and misuse alcohol. High rates of depression and impaired judgment occurs in heavy drinkers, and increases the risk of suicide for these people.

There are high suicide rates related to cocaine. During cocaine withdrawal, intense and painful effects are strongly connected with an increased risk of committing suicide.

Prescription Drugs:
Extended use and/or abuse of prescription drugs is often related with severe depression and linked with an increased risk of an individual taking his or her own life.

There is a strong increase of depression and suicidal thoughts and actions for those who use methamphetamine. Studies have shown that those who inject methamphetamine are 80 percent more likely to take their own lives, than those abusing any other drugs.

Concerned About Oneself or a Loved One

For anyone concerned that themselves or a loved one is battling suicidal thoughts or feelings, there are some common signs that individuals may show or have. These signs include, but are not limited to:

Crying frequently and regularly
Making reckless or impulsive decisions
Sleeping and eating too much or too little
Losing interest in things that were once enjoyable
Giving away valued possessions or buying more than usual
Feelings of  anger, irritability, and exhaustion most of the time
Reoccurring unexplained pains such as headaches or stomach aches
Having low self-worth, hopelessness, constant depression, and low self esteem

These are just a few of the many signs that those who are at risk of committing suicide may or may not display. Some people who display these signs are not at risk of suicide and some people who are at risk of suicide may not display any of these signs.

Get Help for Substance Abuse Problems Before it is Too Late

If a person is suicidal, he or she should not be left alone. Help needs to be sought immediately in order to ensure the safety and well-being of the person. There is treatment and help available for anyone, no matter the situation or condition. Professionals can help individuals find a new hope for living and end the battle with any substance abuse problems.

If someone who is battling a substance abuse problem has not had suicidal thoughts or actions yet, he or she is lucky. Many battle substance abuse and suicidal feelings everyday and some will even choose to take their own life, because the destructive path of substance abuse. For anyone battling addiction problems, there is help available. Get the help needed, before it is too late.

  About the Author

Marilyn Kegley works with to educate individuals about the dangers of substance abuse. After watching numerous loved ones struggle with addiction, her goal is to help as many people as possible get effective and successful rehabilitation treatment.

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