A new national study finds a 55 percent jump in emergency room visits for drug-related suicide attempts in men ages 21 to 34 between 2005 and 2009. The study, conducted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), found suicide attempts involving antidepressants rose by 155 percent, while those involving anti-anxiety and insomnia medications increased by 93 percent.
“I think a lot of these people don’t see these drugs as dangerous because it’s a nice, clean little pill,” Peter Delany, Director of the Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality at SAMHSA, told USA Today. He said physicians should ask patients about both their mental health and their physical health before they prescribe medication.
The study found that emergency department visits for suicide attempts among males aged 35 to 49 involving narcotic pain relievers almost doubled from 2005 to 2009, and almost tripled among men 50 and older.
In 2009, there were 77,971 emergency department visits for drug-related suicide attempts among males of all ages, and 29,407 such visits by men ages 21 to 34.
“While we have learned much about how to prevent suicide, it continues to be a leading cause of death among people who abuse alcohol and drugs,” SAMHSA Administrator Pamela S. Hyde, J.D., said in a news release. “The misuse of prescription drugs is clearly helping to fuel the problem. Greater awareness about the warning signs and risk factors for suicide, including abuse of alcohol and drugs, can help people take action and save lives.”