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Rebecca Farley

Director, Policy & Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

Emergency Department Visits for Drug-Related Suicide Attempts Rise

August 14, 2014 | Opioid and Heroin Epidemic | Comments
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Two new reports from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration highlight the rise in drug-related suicide attempt visits to hospital emergency departments from 2005 to 2011. During that period, there was a 51 percent increase for these types of visits among people 12 and older – from 151,477 visits in 2005 to 228,277 visits in 2011.

The overall rise was attributed to increases in visits by people aged 18 to 29 – who experienced a 58 percent increase – and people aged 45 to 64 – who experienced a 104 percent increase.  In 2011, these two age groups comprised approximately 60 percent of all drug-related emergency department visits involving suicide attempts. Nearly all of these emergency visits by 45-64 year olds (96 percent in 2011) involved the non-medical use of prescription drugs and over-the-counter-medications. In 2011, these drugs included anti-anxiety and insomnia medications (48 percent), pain relievers (29 percent) and antidepressants (22 percent). Other substances involved in these drug-related suicide attempt emergency department visits during the same year included alcohol (39 percent) and illicit drugs (11 percent).

“Suicide continues to take lives without regard to age, income, education, social standing, race, or gender.” said SAMHSA Administrator, Pamela S. Hyde. “It is a growing risk in far too many segments of our society. We must all do everything we can to combat this preventable and needless loss of life and the devastation it inflicts upon friends, families and communities across our nation.”

Follow the links to read the SAMHSA reports: Visits to Emergency Departments for Drug-Related Suicide Attempts Increased and Emergency Department Visits for Drug-Related Suicide Attempts among Middle-Aged Adults Aged 45-64. Both reports are based on the combined findings of SAMHSA’s 2005 to 2011 Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN). DAWN is a public health surveillance that monitors drug-related hospital emergency department visits throughout the U.S.